I like to say that I have no regrets in life, because I’m happy with my life right now, and I never would have got to this point without all those twists and turns along the way. But of course that can never be absolutely true, for anyone, because there’s always little moments when you weren’t at your best. Times you said mean things you can’t take back, times you let a friend down. Times you acted like a self-centred child and should have known better, times you yelled at your kids for the smallest of infractions. I’d go back and change a few little things, if I could, if I knew it wouldn’t be a butterfly flapping its wings and changing my entire future.
This morning in the kitchen I was thinking, yet again, of one small thing from 20 years ago that I continue to regret, and regret often. Sir Monkeypants and I were newlyweds – I think we’d literally been married only a month or two – when some relatives of his came to visit us from England. They were technically his cousins, but the parents were much older than us and had two teenage daughters. They came to stay for a few days, sightseeing in the capital, and they were incredibly lovely people and I continue to think of them with great fondness even though we haven’t seen them since. (And…just realized those daughters are probably married with children themselves, and OH MY WORD.)
Anyway, the mother from this family had an injury to her right hand – her thumb and a couple of fingers were deformed due to a bad burn she had received as a child. As a result, it was sometimes hard for her to find good kitchen tools that worked with her hand. We had one knife – a Wiltshire Staysharp knife in a little white case – that fit her hand perfectly. This particular knife had been a gift to me from Sir Monkeypants, on Valentine’s Day a year or two before.
The mom liked the knife so much that she went out and tried to buy one just like it, but when she got home she found the design of the handle had been subtly changed, and it didn’t work with her hand as well. I felt genuinely sad that it didn’t work out better and we moved on, saying goodbye a day or so later.
Then, literally YEARS later – probably close to a decade later – it came to me one morning out of the blue that I should have offered her my own knife. Sure, it was a gift, but part of the awesomeness of the gift was not the knife itself, but being able to joke that while other girlfriends were getting flowers and chocolate, I was getting kitchen gadgets from my super-practical boyfriend, and that was fab. And sure, it was a very nice knife, but they had just bought one almost exactly the same and we could have swapped them and no one would have been the wiser.
It was so obvious. And yet, at the time, I just didn’t see it.
By then, so much time had passed that I fretted and fretted about what to do about it. I worried they thought I was an idiot, or maybe just a mean person. Mostly I just wanted her to have the knife. It was meant for her! She should have it! And I really, really like her! I want her to have it!
But in the end it just felt too weird to send it. Too much time had passed and I didn’t know if she even remembered the whole thing and ugh, it was just too much social strain. So I did nothing.
But a few times a year, it just pops into my head when I least expect it: I should have given her that knife. And every time I think about it, I get this close to bundling it up and sending it to her, even though we haven’t spoken now in almost 20 years. But it’s become almost painful to use it myself, due to the guilt; it mostly sits in a drawer unless one of the kids gets it out for some reason.
I know, I should get over it. Or just send it to her, weird or not. Or, just sit on my regrets and own them. That’s how it goes, I guess.