What could have been but shouldn’t have been, so I’m glad it wasn’t

Last week marked the birthday of my high school boyfriend, Robert. If memory serves, and let’s face it – it does – he is 38. To my knowledge, he’s married and I think has a couple of kids. As it turns out, he was almost married to me. When I was entering my senior year of high school he was finishing his last year of school for his chosen career and was pretty determined that we would get married right after high school. At first, I didn’t give it much thought, because that’s what my parents had done, and while it didn’t seem “normal,” it wasn’t totally nuts either. However, I got caught up in the going-to-college conversations with my friends and decided that I wanted to do that instead. Robert and I had many conversations and after a few weeks, ended our two-year relationship. It was difficult but the right decision.

Had I gotten married at the ridiculous age of 18, I would probably have had an ok life, not gone to school, not worked, been a stay-at-home mom, etc. Certainly not a bad life at all. I don’t think it would have been the right life for me. I’ve had the great privilege of education, travel, friends and a generally great life that I would not have had if I had gotten married. Yes, this is the person about which I have the recurring nightmare, but I’m proud of myself for making the right choice and, should that dream ever come true, I could do it again.

One of my favorite albums of all time is Come On, Come On by Mary Chapin Carpenter. It’s one of those rare situations where I love every song on it. There’s one in particular that applies to this situation and I think that making the choice to not get married helped me avoid this. Here are the lyrics:

He Thinks He’ll Keep Her

She makes his coffee, she makes his bed
She does the laundry, she keeps him fed
When she was 21 she wore her mother’s lace
She said “Forever” with a smile upon her face

She does the carpool, she PTA’s
Doctors and dentists, she drives all day
When she was 29 she delivered number 3
And every Christmas card showed a perfect family

Everything runs right on time
Years of practice and design
Spit and polish ’till it shines
He thinks he’ll keep her

Everything is so benign
Safest place you’ll ever find
God forbid you change your mind
He thinks he’ll keep her

She packs his suitcase, she sits and waits
With no expression on her face
When she was 36 she met him at the door
She said, “I’m sorry. I don’t love you anymore.”

For 15 years she had a job, but not one raise in pay
Now she’s in the typing pool at minimum wage

Everything runs right on time
Years of practice and design
Spit and polish ’till it shines
He thinks he’ll keep her

Everything is so benign
Safest place you’ll ever find
At least until you change your mind
He thinks he’ll keep her

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