n theory, I understand that when you look at the big picture, there is no point in having regrets. It happened already! The past has passed! Be in the now! Live in the moment! I guess what I don’t understand is how I’m supposed to take on this mindset while sitting cross-legged in front of the mirror, already regretting putting on eyeliner in the present.
A list of other things I always wish I didn’t start:
A majority of the stories I tell at dinner or wherever. I’m long-winded by nature. It’s fine for writing because I can cut and edit later — but in person, well: you think it’s exhausting to listen to me? Try being me doing the talking. It’s like going for a run forever then realizing that you still have half an hour left, but the only way home is to keep jogging, and also, you run weird.
Curling my hair. Halfway ’round my head and my shoulders need a nap.
Scary movies or single episodes of intense, stressful television shows. I do not have the gene that allows me to enjoy being scared. I can’t do “haunted houses” no matter how low-budget the production and I hate having my name softly called from far away because I always think it’s a ghost. I also absorb the stress of everyone else (if I’m watching a show where someone goes under water, I try to hold my breathe in solidarity), so scary movies and single episodes of intense, stressful TV essentially send me into night sweats before I’ve even had a chance to go to sleep. The problem is that there’s always one friend who tricks me into starting something like this, usually with a glass of wine and a wheel of cheese, and then I feel like I have to get to the end to prove my own bravery. No real punchline here. I just regret it halfway through or sooner is all.
The last quarter of a large burrito. Assuming I have eaten my weight in chips just prior to or in succession with my burrito, those three quarters-worth of chicken, rice, guacamole, sour cream, cheese and green tomatillo stuffed into a cozy flour tortilla are almost always sufficient for me in terms of fullness. And yet, as with scary movies, I find myself eternally determined to finish the whole thing. Always regret it about one bite in.
Making a pre-work smoothie. Too many steps.
Group texts. Why don’t I learn.
Offering an entire office the opportunity to tack onto my coffee order. “That’ll be $45.00 dollars and two scalded wrists.”
Swimming long distances. This doesn’t happen often but I always forget that swimming is hard and I’m not sure I can move forward through water longer than a minute? This terrifies me the moment I start to wish I weren’t swimming, because what if I ever need to swim as my getaway? I also worry about needing to drive a stick shift car as a getaway because you just never know.
Offering to carry something heavy. The answer is always yes and it’s always heavy.
Offering to wait for someone. The person might say no but then it feels weird to just leave and so I stay and then I get antsy.
Pumping Iron, the 1977 bodybuilding documentary featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Pumping Iron is apparently one of those cult indie documentary classics that, among certain pods, will cause individuals to exclaim in surprise and a little bit of horror, “I can’t believe you’ve never seen that!” Well now I have, and I can’t say I wish I’d never seen it, but about 15 minutes into watching, when I realized, Oh, this is it, this is how the whole thing is going to go, I began to wish I hadn’t started it.
Instagram “Discover Feed” rabbit holes. I know myself well enough to know I should avoid the Discover Feed if I ever want to shower or do work or go to sleep or not be late or pay that bill or exist in the parts of my world that don’t involve a phone, but I don’t, and from the moment I click into my first foster kitten feeding time video, I instantly regret the next hour I am about to waste (“waste”) listening to teeny meows.
Conversations where I ask for advice and then suddenly don’t want advice anymore. No choice but to sit there and take it and think about how I’m probably not going to do what this person is kindly and thoughtfully suggesting.
Any movie that starts at 9:30 p.m. Way too late!!! This is reckless.
Shopping for something I need that evening. Something overtakes me when I shop in person last minute and I become hot and tired and so hungry and I have to pee and my pulse quickens as I start to get frustrated that I can’t find the very specific thing I have in mind, and then I think about the money I shouldn’t spend, and the time I’m using up that could be donated toward a few minutes of relaxation instead. Then I panic purchase or go home empty-handed, neither of which feel great.
Cleaning out my closet. It just so quickly becomes an ordeal because I take everything out to put it back in again, but before I put it back I decide I should also do my drawers, under-furnitures, kitchen cabinets and email inboxes. All at once.
Doing a “cat eye.” The left eye is always fine to line. (I am left handed, not a magician.) It is the start of the right where I find myself exhausted. Regretful. Most likely running late. Committed to finishing whether I want to or not, unless it is my intent to leave the house looking like Alex from A Clockwork Orange. (It so rarely is these days, unfortunately.) With no mind or foresight paid to the abilities of my poor non-dominant limb, I am forced, halfway through each and every time I decide to do a cat eye, to shake, breathe and pray my way through it. It always smudges and I never have Q-tips nearby and worst of all, it’s tiring on the elbows.
Illustrations by Meredith Jensen.