You know how, in the infancy of every new romance -- save maybe Ryan Gosling's -- you and your precarious partner spend your first date unwinding each other's lives via a series of questions meant to extract the vital moments of your respective lives into some sort of roadmap, so that at the end you might have a glimpse at the chance your paths could successfully cross? And, though you'd like to think your imagination strays towards the MPDG of those carefree, wistful Zoe Deschanel's and Natalie Portman's; you, or that mirage standing beside you, will inevitably become more solid under questions like "what's your worst memory," "what kind of superpower would you have," or, as is the case in question, "what is your greatest regret?"
As a standing practice I don't believe in regrets. I don't believe that life is so finite that every moment could not be turned on its head to uncover some greater, soul-dissecting truth within its supposed beauty or ugliness. But I've also been accused of thinking too much.
Sam and I recently spent three days driving an accumulated 24 hours to and from San Francisco. Bed bugs and shitty motel 6's -- and the subsequent night spent in her car notwithstanding -- I don't regret the trip. Not even when considering the fact that the Kerouacian Empire currently sits #2 on my two-city list of Dumbest Cities Ever:
I'm sure my brethren of the Hipster Culture will lay down their Wayfarers in contempt for this. But seriously, San Francisco: YOU'RE NOT EVEN WARM. 70 degrees at the peak of Haight's attraction is not enough for me to regret offending the masses with this statement. And WTF, claustrophobic hills? Get it together, California.
Despite Sam and I's relatively dismal perception of a city even Google and Apple have hard-ons for, the trip could have been worse. I don't regret the two hours I spent weeping on the ride home nor the unexpectedly comfortable, aforementioned night's sleep in Sam's compact.
Mere hours before we embarked upon our inevitably disappointing and hilly ride Northwest, Sam awoke me at the ungodly hour she rises every single day during the school year. While she embarked upon another day molding young minds, I sought out what I'd hoped would be a solitary journey up the backside of the mountain Formerly Known As Squaw Peak (google dictionary for origins on its former moniker and henceforth name change).
|I did not take this picture. I am not that cool.|
The scene: waiting behind some sporty Jeep-or-another in the parking lot, chatting with my mother, hoping my phone won't inform me of its heat stroke again in the 95-degree-and-climbing early morning. After a few distracted moments, noticing that Jeep Or Other has finally shut his driver's-side door, which until this moment had seemed just inconsiderate due to its blocking of the path to sought-after parking spots, but now a minor inconvenience to be navigated around. Notice: the lone car passing to the left, on its journey away from the soul-engaging hike up Chick's Tit. Fail To Notice: signage informing all incoming vehicles of their obligation to wait in line for their turn at parking for soul-satisfaction. Notice: singular parking spot, ripe for the taking, upon which phone call is interrupted by Jeep Or Other's vulgarity over disregard for aforementioned sign.
Let's just say that this guy, fit to grace the wrappers of Clif bars everywhere, was certainly not pleased with my apparent disregard for The Rules. And, being the smug out-of-towner, I thought that my defensive vulgarity was well warranted considering his previously obnoxious door-blocking and local mean-mugging. Despite the brief raising of hackles, his persistence on the Importance Of The Sign won over my feeble argument, and I waited in my (appropriately earned) parking spot for Clif Bar to make enough of an advance to finally depart upon my own journey.
Solitude bequeaths answers to all of life's questions, right? Barely two minutes up that scorching heap of rocks my answer came -- to apologize for being a royal dick to this guy on his way down (even if he did start it first).
So the whole way up I'm stealing myself to see Clif Bar again. I'm thinking I really owe this to myself, to redeem the Hipster Culture and young people of the world by apologizing, for being the Bigger Person. I'm really going to show him, you know? The rest of his life, he's going to remember this self-righteous, tattooed Midwesterner that apologized for being rude in a parking lot in Phoenix, Arizona. He'll always remember being showed up by the mean-turned-courteous girl half his age. I saw him about three quarters of the way up. And you know what I did? I chickened the fuck out.
Maybe it was because he looked so intense in his Clif-iness, or because I was out of breath in my big-assedness, or because after 20 minutes of preparation the sun suddenly got in my eyes. But as his head looked down to avoid further confrontation (or possibly falling and dying), I simply puffed on.
Since this moment I've concluded that it is the only act I've committed that I regret: the act of not acting at all. Maybe it's for the best, considering my intentions were pretty much selfishness anyways. But mostly I regret being a coward. And I regret that he still thinks me one, too.