It’s true that with age comes wisdom, but I still have a lot to learn. Apparently, I tend to think “outside of the box” quite often, which can be a good thing. But when my spouse suggested that I acknowledge that a box even exists, it caused me to rethink a few of my present and past decisions. What can I say? It seemed like a good idea at the time. Following is my list of things I would do differently. Then again, I learned a few lessons, so maybe it isn’t all bad.
As a Utah teenager way back in the Stone Age ’70s, I watched most of my friends marry their boyfriends and start families. It was what you did. Utah culture demanded it, and it probably wasn’t so different across the rest of country at that time. Women were thrilled to become moms and start a life of domestic bliss. It didn’t work for me or most of my friends. I can only think of one friend who is still married to the same person, and she waited until she was well into her 20s — an old maid by Utah standards. So it seemed like a good idea at the time, but it wasn’t. I was a slow learner.
My advice: Wait until you are at least 30 (yikes!), and enjoy life in the meantime.
Hyphenating my last name
I may not have entered this marriage with confidence. Apparently, I was trying to leave during the ceremony. I remember the pastor grabbing my hands and putting his hand over my and my partner’s hands. Then there was the added security of my friend blocking me from behind so I couldn’t escape. Fourteen years later, I’m still here, though, so it’s all good. Regardless, after two failed marriages, I thought hyphenating would be a good idea. If this one didn’t work, I could just delete the last part and go back to my maiden name. Fortunately, I’m still married, but I don’t know what to tell people when they ask my name. Is it Nelson or Barker? Nelson-Barker is long and confusing, and it’s hard to sign my name in the space provided. Don’t even get me started on legal documents. I tried to drop my middle name, but it mysteriously appeared on my passport, and now it won’t go away. Hyphenating seemed like a good idea at the time as it was a way for me to assert my individuality, but it didn’t work well.
My advice: Never change your name, and name your child Al or Ali. Seriously, if you do, they will endure bureaucratic BS for their entire life and never get on an airplane without tons of grief.
Cutting my own hair
In the ’70s, layers were the thing. I think it was the precursor to the big hair of the ’80s. I remember reading a magazine article on how to make your own layers. It was stated that one could make a ponytail and just cut it in front of the band and voila! Instant layers. It seemed like a good idea at the time. It wasn’t. I looked like a Lhasa Apso. It took a long time to grow back to being somewhat reasonable and more mainstream.
My advice: Leave it to the professionals unless you are going to shave your head entirely.
Thinking I can rollerblade
I am fairly athletic for my age. The latter part of that statement is important. I used to rollerblade with my friend Deb quite often, and neither of us died, so in our minds we were experts. One day, my friend Bob invited me to go blading, and I was deluded into thinking that I could easily impress him. We met at a different trail than the one I was used to. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Unfortunately, there were steeper hills than the previous trail. I found out that I really didn’t know how to stop. I still have the scars. Fortunately, Bob is still my friend, and we still laugh about the incident. We are more mature now. I don’t know if they even still make rollerblades. If not, I know why.
My advice: Forget about trying to impress others unless you have a death wish.
Listening to my hormones
Hormones are instruments of the devil. They tempt and seduce you into ridiculous situations and relationships. They make you think that you will feel good, fulfill all your needs, and enjoy life. They are lying bastards and will rob you of your dignity. Relenting to hormones may seem like a good idea at the time, but don’t do it! They can cause more angst than you can ever imagine. There needs to be an off switch. Just saying.