The What-If Game
In leiu of studying for my test tomorrow, I've been relaxing and daydreaming a bit. And playing the "what-if game." You know the one - it starts out as "What if such and such never happened." And then you ponder the road that would have led up to today's date, but with a very divergent path. You can pick any event in your life - in the near or far past, signficant or not so much, it can be a particular person that you might never have met or you can even pick a historical figure to have never existed. The what-if game is lots of fun, and can occupy a person for hours, either alone or in the company of others.
So, my what-if is usually in the form of "What if I had never gone to Israel nine years ago? What would my life be like today? Where would I be and what would I be doing?"
I can pretty safely say that the landscape of my life would be tremendously different. I can't say for sure, but I am fairly certain I wouldn't be living in New Jersey. Most of my high school classmates, along with my brothers, stayed in Alabama. A lot of the Jewish kids moved away, but most of them not too far - to Atlanta, maybe North Carolina or Texas. But looking at the odds, I would probably still be in the South.
I honestly don't know if I would be pursuing a Master's degree. It's possible that I would. If I hadn't gone to Israel, I would probably have completed my Bachelor's degree right away and worked in a non-profit organization, most likely the one I interned in while I was in college, but if not that one, probably something similar. Maybe after a few years of working, I would have decided to go back to school, I was always a good student, just kinda burnt out by the time I hit college. But my parents are into education, so they would certainly have encouraged me. Though, parental encouragement has usually been swept to the wayside and led me down the opposite path, so there's no telling what I would be doing these days if I still lived close to my family.
Relationships - this is the part that gets complicated. I grew up with a very strong Jewish identity, though mainly a cultural, rather than a religious, one. When I was growing up, my parents strongly encouraged me to marry a Jewish guy. But that emphasis has faded over the years, and now my parents say they just want my brothers and I to marry good people, Jewish or otherwise. If I had stayed in Alabama, the likelihood of my finding someone Jewish would have been slim. I have no idea whether I would actually be married now or not. If I was, I have a feeling he wouldn't be Jewish.
And then I get stuck. Because in the what if game I'm playing, say I go down the road where there I am, married to a non-jewish man, living in Alabama, working for a non-profit organization, possibly with a Master's degree. Would I have children? Would I be close with my family? Would I own a house? Who would my friends be? It's such an incredibly different reality from what I know, that I have a hard time even imagining it, and I have a decent imagination. But I think imagination works better when you're dealing with fantasy, rather than what could have been reality.
Nine years ago, I took a trip that changed my life and put me on a road, maybe the road less traveled. And it certainly has made all the difference. What "what if" games do you play?