Most of the things in my life that I love the most are the things that give me the most happiness and at the same time, some of the greatest heartache. It's because I've emotionally invested in these things. I have a stake in the future of these items, and at the same time have a long and sorid past with it. I've gone through hell and back again with many of them. And I would do it again.
I love the computers that have been in my life. They have both exposed me to a larger world and cut me off from it. My first computer was a Heathkit that my father and I put together. It was fascinating. A black box that pumped hours of entertainment into. As the model that I used improved, it became not just a piece of entertainment (games!), it also became my teacher. It taught me the basics of programming and logic.
Later on, the computer became my lifeline to my social life. It introduced me to a number of my future boyfriends. It was another world to me. A world where I could be anyone I wanted to be... and for a 12 year old rejected from a majority of her schoolmates, that meant a lot to me. All of my friends were much older and male. I was engulfed in a world where my sex made me special and people treated me cordially. I loved it.
My partners all soon learn of my love affaire with my machine. They learn not to disturb me when I'm engrossed in it, face glued to the glowing white screen. Of the two off us, I have to be the one more involved with the machine: when it is the other way around, I get too jealous of my partner's attentions being drawn to the same lover. I'm not sure if I am jealous towards the computer or my partner...
I love my father for introducing me to my electronic husband. We're a lot alike. We harbor the same, short temper. We're both intelligent and intellectual. We both love the black box. My mother gets outrageously annoyed when she calls us to the table and we both wave her off, fascinated by the innards of a machine or a new program. I love my mother, but I am definitely my father's little girl.
I love my piercings. Even though they complain constantly these days. My eyebrow ring looks like it's rejecting and I'll probably get it removed sometime next week. My two lobe piercings are still crusty and weepy and slightly sting. Yet, they mark choices that I've made. I got my first lobe piercing just before my 23rd birthday. It was like an entrance for me to a larger world. I've become financially independent and I've taken my first real step into the outside world. The second lobe piercing was to augment the first. It was done after I turned 23 and was the point where I started becoming more involved in the body art culture. My eyebrow ring, I received as a ritual for Samhain: my first recognized one. They make me feel independent and even when I've removed my eyebrow ring, the scars from it will still be there and I will be proud of them, even if my partner doesn't.
The one object that I love the most is my partner. Mike and I have been through so many things together. We've fallen in love with each other, shared each other's passions, indulged in each other both mentally and physically. We've gone through rough times with each other, like the time that Mike had a lot of difficulty coming to terms that he wasn't going to receive his Masters degree... and the time that I nearly fell for someone else through that rough time.
But we pulled through it... and we pulled through it together. We may never get married, but we've decided to walk the life path together. A choice that we made together and of our own free will. I think this is why I love him the most. My computer and my piercings don't interact with me and don't make the decision to stay with me. My family love me because they have to. Mike and I have no such bonds. We made one, and that makes it all the more precious.
Rob-Rummel Hudson of Kalamazoo Days always asks a question to his readers. His question was an interesting one... and my reply.
What risk do you now regret NOT taking in your life? How would your life be different if you had taken it?
The thing about my life is that I generally don't have "risky" choices that I backed off from and regret doing so. I tried thinking back:
Going to Cornell Summer School. I regret not taking it, but it wasn't a particularly "risky" choice, nor was it mine to make (my parents didn't have enough money for me to go).
Going to Cornell University. I could have gone there. I thought about it intensely when I was preparing to go to University of Illinois. My admission was "deferred" for a year. Well, I met a great man, loved the atmosphere at U of Illinois... so I don't regret not going. Okay, maybe a little... but I wouldn't do it differently if I had to do it over again.
Falling in love with someone else other than my current partner. I had this choice twice. I suppose I kind of semi-regret not falling for Jason (a fellow a cappella-head from U of Chicago), but Mike is such a good partner for me that the question is really moot. I was very close to falling for Brian (fellow cofounder of the U of Illinois Assassins' Guild), especially since Mike and I were going through a rough patch... but didn't because he doesn't have as many fine qualities as Mike does. Those would have been
"risky" choices, but I don't regret my choice.
Working for the University. That was a risky choice since I was making nearly *ZIP* from them... but I gained so much practical experience. No regret not taking the Industry road immediately after I graduated.
Taking the educational technology job in Chicago. This was the risky thing to do since I would have had to move myself up to Chi-town and find a place to live and wouldn't know anyone... but I decided to work for a small web design company (that went defunk 3 days after I started working there). Do I regret it? Not one bit, strangely enough! It was because the company went down that I looked for another job and landed the great one that I have now.
As you can tell, I've been darned lucky in my choices of whether or not to take a risk. I suppose the one risky thing that I could have done but didn't was to go into graduate school for botany (I got my undergraduate degree in botany). There are days when I think "what if"... especially when I meet an old friend who almost invariably would tell me, "You know, I thought you were going to become a research scientist and trek the forests of South America or somethin'." I love plants. I love studying them. But there would be no money... and I love what I'm doing now just as much.
Would I do it differently? It's a coin toss.
If I took that risk, I suppose I would be finishing up my masters thesis, either in systematics (the naming and classification of living organisms, in my specific case, plants) or in environmental botany (the effects of pollution, specifically heavy metal pollution, on the structure and growth of lichens... which would have been an extension of my undergraduate study). If I left academics and went into industry, I would be doing lab work (worst
case scenario), or trekking out in the forests somewhere (ehh...
discomforting but I'd look in shape) for a nonprofit environmental agency or research institution or pharmecutical company, or doing electron microscopy work (TEM and SEM) with probably something unrelated to plants. Scary, huh?