Friday Night Think Tank: A Year Again Edition

Doc BrownWe made it through another week, Modern Philosophers!

Last Friday’s Think Tank was the most popular one this blog has hosted in ages, and I was thrilled to see such participation.  As a result, I’m so pumped for tonight’s edition that I’m writing it much earlier than usual.

I’ve had quite the week.  It’s been one that’s left me deep in thought, questioning what I’m doing with my life, and wondering about the choices I made that have led me to this moment.

It’s been a while since we’ve done a little time traveling, and that has always been the heart and soul of the Think Tank.  So let’s fire up our time machines, and set this week’s edition in the past.  Who’s with me?

This week’s topic: If you could relive one year of your life, which would it be?  Are you choosing that year because you want to make changes, because something significant happened, because it was the happiest year of your life?  Tell us why that year is worth living again, and how you would approach those 12 months the second time around…

I come up with Think Tank topics at various points during the week, and this one popped into my head a couple of days ago.  I’ve been giving it serious Deep Thought ever since.

The near winner was the year leading up to the day The Girl Who Owns My Heart moved away for school.  That might very well have been the happiest 365 days of my life, so I’d want to relive them just to be on top of the world again.  I just miss her so much and would love the opportunity to see her every day again, to hold her, to hear her laugh, to kiss her, and hold her hand.  There are also things I’d like to do differently, things I should have said to her, and questions I should have asked.

NYU GradsHowever, I’m not going to choose that year.  Instead, I’m going with my senior year at NYU.  What a momentous year in my life, and one that I bungled rather badly.

It was my Senior year of college, and for that reason alone, I’d like to relive it.  My last year of freedom before having to settle down, find a job, pay my student loans, and act like a responsible adult.

I was President of the dorm Student Council and a member of the baseball team.  I was a 20 year old Film Major living in the greatest city in the world.  With all that going for me, I think I wasted the year.

I didn’t have enough fun.  I didn’t party like a college senior.  I continued to spend my weekends working in order to pay for school, so I never allowed myself a wild college weekend.  I didn’t go on Spring Break.  I didn’t get drunk.  I didn’t put on a toga, go on a road trip, get arrested, or make my mark on the world.

What I did do was get back together with J, the woman who would grow up to be my ex-wife.  She had dropped out of school, moved back to California, and refused to speak to me for a year.  Then, out of the blue, she wrote to me.  I stupidly forgave her for showing me all the signs that she was not the woman for me, and allowed her back into my life.

Instead of being a single guy my Senior year, I had J move to New York.  I was off the market before I ever really had a chance to see what was out there.

If I had just spent my Senior year dating and seeing if there was someone else out there for me, maybe my life would have been completely different.  I’ll never know.  Instead, I wasted my 20s on  woman who would eventually cheat on me and walk out of my life with pretty much everything we owned.

Another thing I would have done different was diversify my Film classes.  I was so focused on being a writer, that I never took any classes on producing, and pretty much blew off the directing and editing ones.  I had no idea how much more control I could have over my screenplays if I could also direct and produce them.  I regret that all the time.

I would spend more time making contacts in the Film community, rather than just hanging with my circle of friends at the dorm.  I would take better advantage of my internship at Chauncey Street Productions, and made sure I’d left NYU with a job in Film or TV.

There is one other very personal thing I would try to fix.  Before J moved back to NY, there was someone else.  She was a freshman, and I didn’t realize at the time how hard I was falling for her.  I just wrote it off as a fun crush and a good friend whose company I was enjoying until my girlfriend returned.

When J returned and my time with the freshman was cut back because J became extremely jealous, I didn’t see it for what it was.  My Deep Thoughts were telling me that J wasn’t the one.  I should have already known this because she had fled to California and cut off all contact with me.

When I started missing the girl on the sixth floor of my dorm, I should have known.  It would’ve saved myself many years of misery.

What I really regret, though, is something that happened over the course of two nights with the freshman.  We were alone one night in her room, we were getting along, joking, flirting, and I blurted out that I had feelings for her.  Before the conversation could go any further, my roommate interrupted to tell me that J had just arrived.

So, I ran to my girlfriend and left the other girl with those words just hanging in the air.  I’m sure I spent the night convincing J that she was the one for me.  At the time, I mistook my fear of losing her again and being alone, with being in love with her.

The next night, I returned to the sixth floor to finish that conversation.  Like a total ass, I told this sweet, beautiful, awesome girl that I had lied the night before and had no feelings for her whatsoever.

My memory of her reaction is burned into my brain forever.  We were alone in her room.  I was sitting on the bed, and she was behind me picking out an outfit because she was going out with her roommates.  She had been doing her hair, so her mirror was on the bed.  I picked it up so I could secretly check on her as she stood behind me.

She was crying and wiping away her tears, while saying that she knew I was just joking and there was no way she could have any feelings for an older guy like me.

I made her cry.  This girl who had been so amazing to me, who had done nothing wrong to me, who had cared for me…I lied to her and made her cry.  And did nothing to comfort her.

That was the last we ever spoke of it.  I’ve never forgiven myself or stopped beating myself up for my stupidity, callousness, fear, and overall douchebaggery.

I’d relive that entire year simply to get a do over with the girl my heart wanted to pick.

What about you, Modern Philosophers?  What’s your story?  I can’t wait to read the responses, but it might have to wait until after I beat myself up some more over the stupid choices I made when I was 20…

About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
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50 Responses to Friday Night Think Tank: A Year Again Edition

  1. grannyK says:

    Wow, what a story? How can anyone top that one? I have so many years to choose from that I really can’t decide. I think a biggie has to be the year after I graduated high school. I knew I wanted to be a teacher, but decided to wait a year or two before college. Well, that year or two kept getting pushed back and I never made it to school at all. I do regret that. I should have gone right from high school to college!

  2. floridaborne says:

    I have so many years to choose from, yet I believe the year I would change would be 39. I had a surgery that plagued me for life. If I had that year to do over again, I would have looked at the alternatives and taken another direction. It would’ve prevented a 2nd surgery a few years later that didn’t work.

  3. Mary-Anne says:

    Never regret choices, if those things had not happened we would not have met. You can still take classes in directing and producing, learning never stops. 🙂

  4. drishism says:

    Regrets are not healthy. Forgive yourself for that night…

    I wish, in 1993… I had moved to Colorado. Instead, I was afraid to be so far from home so I moved to Muncie Indiana for college. If I could get a do over… I would have moved to Colorado. I had a second opportunity in 1996, and again chickened out. When I finally moved to Colorado, it was 2007… and 2007 was the best year of my life. Now that I’m in grad school, moving back to Colorado is priority #1… a job after grad school is secondary. The only reason I left Colorado for grad school in 2011 is because colleges normally don’t higher PhD s from their own program

  5. hollie says:

    You know, it is never too late for you to go back to school, too! Take advantage of the pieces you missed out on the first time… If I could go back in time I’d go back to 2000. I’d have been smarter and not dated the guy who would become my abuser. I don’t have the energy for the full story but just not dating that guy right before my senior year in high school it would have changed everything. Even then, I knew I was at a crossroads…I went left when I should have went right. I ignored every instinct and every family member and friend who he eventually alienated from me. I stayed and made a whole host of bad decisions mostly because I was so afraid to admit just how wrong I had been. And since I had spent so much time defending my choices it was even harder to eat my words. I made so many choices like moving out 6 days after I graduated, not going to college right away, sleeping through most of my senior year because I was so depressed and felt like I was screaming but no one could hear me. If I had not dated the abuser I could now sleep without prescription drugs. I could breathe deeply from my chest and not catch myself holding my breath like you do in a scary movie…even when I’m not actually in any danger. I could stand it when someone raised their voice at me without immediately bursting into tears and I would not startle so easily. I would not freak the fuck out and hyperventilate if someone casually threw some sheets over my face in bed. I would not have spent my 20s believing I was grossly overweight (at a whopping 110 pounds at the heaviest when I was with him mind you) because that is what he told me every day. Still, all these years later there are lasting effects of my choice to let someone totally dismantle me, piece by piece. The scars you can’t see are the ones that hurt the worst.

  6. markbialczak says:

    You have been carrying that senior year regret around a long time, Austin. I hope getting it out there into the world tonight makes you feel better.

    All of those things had to happen for you to be who you are today, though.

    I have regrets, surely, but I wouldn’t go back and change any one year of my life because I fear the butterfly effect would so drastically alter everything thereafter I wouldn’t really be me now if I did.

    One other point, about the freshman in her room. College students do that sort of thing to each other too frequently, unfortunately. It doesn’t make it right, but you weren’t the only one to hide your true feelings at the expense of somebody else during the college years. Give yourself a bit of a break about it, perhaps.

    • Austin says:

      Thanks, Mark.

      There must be a year, though, that you’d want to relive. You wouldn’t have to change it. Just give it a second run through exactly as it was. What would that year be?

  7. That’s a pretty gut-wrenching replay. I can see why that would haunt you…life sometimes is cruel like that way. I hope you can make peace with it someday…maybe reconnect for one of those movie scene moments, where you finally tell the truth to her and let it all unfurl.

    I try not to have regrets. Of course, I do, but I do my best to be philosophical about them. What I have more are wishes… wishes that I didn’t take academia so seriously at school. That I put relationships above principles. That I studied for a skill or vocation, not ideas. That I didn’t waste two years of my life with that person, or spend so much time being bullied by that other. That I didn’t end my jobs so spectacularly badly. This list goes on… Fact is, we can’t live parallel lives. And there are lots of things that were good about those decisions as well. Ce la vie!

  8. vbassoc says:

    The question is–did you learn and change from the experience? If you did, then you’ve grown and opened the door to opportunities that are uniquely yours. My guess is that the depth of your humor and insight could only have been developed through those mistakes, joys, regrets, self-admonitions, and periods of euphoric flow…and, I’ve been there too. Everyday is a chance to choose another path. have you done a George Bailey analysis? Every changed choice gives and takes something.

  9. SW_ysobel says:

    No doubt I’d love to go back to the year I went to NZ for three month to learn English. I had such fantastic time !

    • Austin says:

      Wonderful! Finally, someone sharing a happy year they would like to relive. Thanks for sharing this with the group. I thought this topic would elicit much happier replies!

  10. moonbear42 says:

    I think that I would rather skip a couple years ahead than relive something that I have already experienced. Thinking about what I could have done differently hurts my brainnn. There is only what I can do now and in the future.

    • Austin says:

      I suppose I will allow this answer since there are no wrong answers in Think Tank. I just wanted to know what year in your life made you happiest, or gave you regret, and never quite sat right with you. Just a fun, philosophical exercise… 🙂

      • moonbear42 says:

        Right… well when I was 13 I had the chance to continue with the volleyball team in highschool but instead of taking that seriously I let partying and boys distract me. I wouldn’t change anything except for maybe doing the volleyball thing as well…

      • Austin says:

        Partying and boys at 13? Sounds like you had an exciting early life! Thanks for posting a second answer. 🙂

  11. ksbeth says:

    live the life you have always wanted to live beginning now. let the past be something you learned from.

  12. I don’t think I’d go back to relive even the most golden of years. What if the year I chose didn’t look so golden second time round? The memory of it (which I’m sure I’ve embelished over the years since) would be forever tarnished. The year I met my second (and current) husband, I had just finished my second year at uni as a very mature student. I was doing conservation work in an old cemetery that had been turned into a conservation area. There was heatwave, weeks and weeks of clear skies and roasting temperatures. I saved 2000 saplings that summer by wheeling tubs of water in a barrow from the one tap on a twenty acre site. I was tanned, fit, in love again and felt I was making a difference. Somehow, the rest of that year has faded into insignificance, although I know there must have been grey days and less than great experiences. I’ll keep my golden year just as it has settled in my memory – trees and sunshine, butterflies and new, heart-stopping love.

    • Austin says:

      Thank for for participating. That sounds like quite a summer! Your story of watering the trees made me chuckle because I wrote a post Thursday night reminding people of the importance of watering their flowers! 🙂

  13. Just read it! Very apt, as here in Yorkshire we have just had the first really warm day of the year!

  14. It was great to read this little insight into your life, or past life shall I say. I always said, I wouldn’t change a thing about my past, although I have made many mistakes. As cliche as this sounds, if it wasn’t for those life lessons, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Would I want to go back and relive it? Heck no! However, I would like to bottle up all the good times, and experience them all consecutively until the year was up. Could I do this instead? *Bats eyelids*

    • Austin says:

      Remember, this question wasn’t necessarily about changing the past. It asked if there was year you’d just like to live again. Wasn’t there a super happy year you’d love to re-experience?

      • The thing is…my past is one big rollercoaster! This is why I asked to experience happiness in a bottle instead. If I really had to choose, i’d go back to 1995 – when I was 7-years-old! – and without a care in the world. Before all the scary ‘grown up’ problems entered my world. I’d also like to spend time with my dad again 🙂

      • Austin says:

        Awww…I’m sure a 7 year old you was quite adorable. 🙂

      • …wait a minute. In 1995, I was 9. Geez, my math skills are terrible, as well as my English. *Hangs head in shame*. At nine, I probably wasn’t as cute! My daughter is nine and her attitude stinks, it takes away from the cuteness! haha.

      • Austin says:

        I knew the English were bad at Math… 😛

  15. mandolinsummer says:

    Reblogged this on 365 Days and commented:
    Great question – and one I’m going to use for today’s entry…see next post for MY response!!

  16. mandolinsummer says:

    Great question, Austin…I’m posting my own comments on my blog so it’ll get my readers to thinking, too!!

  17. joysef says:

    Don’t beat yourself up over things you can’t change. Look her up and tell her you’re sorry that you lied to her and made her cry. You’ll feel better. *hug*

    • Austin says:

      Thanks, Joy. It all happened so long ago, but for some reason, it was on my mind the other night. Thanks for reading my blog and commenting. Maybe I’ll have you take some pictures for future posts. 🙂

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