Monday, September 16, 2013


As the resident old broad here at Honestly YA, I did not watch The Fairly Odd Parents growing up. I watched with my kids while they grew up (see, "old broad," above). In that time there was one episode that -- funny enough -- I managed to catch repeatedly.

For those of you who are not connoisseurs of this particular animated series, young Timmy asks his fairy godparents, Cosmo and Wanda, for his very own "re-do" watch: A handy wristwatch he could set to take him back in time just far enough to replay disastrous events that have already occurred. Okay, so maybe missing the school bus isn't exactly "disastrous" but you get the idea. His magic-wielding fairy godparents create a watch that gives him the power to re-do life events.

I loved that episode. I loved the potential of going back in time to smooth things out, even though for Timmy, the outcome of such meddling resulted in events more disastrous than the original -- if it's possible to be "more disastrous," but let's not get into a semantic argument here. Point is, how tempting is it to have the power to re-do the past? Which, of course, leads to, what would you re-do if you had the chance?

Now, I'm not talking re-do'ing the little things like "should have worn my gloves while picking cotton." I'm talking the big stuff like "should have left Atlanta when Rhett warned me to." I have a lot of moments that run that re-do gamut. But the big one, my "should have left Atlanta"... *sigh*

We'll call him Jeff (since I've never dated a Jeff). Better yet, "Geoff," because that's even further removed from fact. I dated Geoff straight through my junior summer and senior year of high school, and you know what that means. No, not prom. Be serious. Do I look like the type to swoon over prom? No. Senior year of high school means college applications and campus visits and otherwise planning for the future. Geoff and I saw a future together because, you know, true love.! Interesting classes. Your own choice of notebook. Mini-fridges...dorm life! And, you know, future riches based on a top-notch collegiate education!

Geoff, I must note, was not in college. He was employed full time in a job that could easily lead to lifelong career. College was something he never considered, had no interest in. I'm okay with that; was then, am now. College isn't for everyone. But it was for me. More, the college for me was the University of a Thousand Miles Away. Ohmigosh. Great program. Fabulous clubs. Gorgeous campus.

Geoff went into a panic, followed by surly depression. How could I leave him? he'd ask. Didn't I love him? Weren't the local schools good enough? What about our future together?

Reader, I caved. I never sent my application to the University of a Thousand Miles Away, and instead applied to the College of Commuting Distance. I graduated high school, Geoff in the audience with my parents (oh, how they adored Geoff!), and looked forward to attending classes at the local college once my Incredible Senior Summer reached its conclusion.

Midway through my Incredible Senior Summer Geoff announces he has something important to discuss with me. If I had any ideas or suspicions what this important topic was, I don't remember. I wonder if I was somehow expecting an engagement ring, or at least a promise ring, but that's more the me of today. The me of then wanted nothing to do with marriage. So who knows what I was expecting. It certainly wasn't what I got, that's for sure.

"I joined the Army!" Geoff announced, pride coming off him in waves.

The. Army. The U. S. Army. The one with bases All. Over. the. World. After all the begging and pleading that I stay local for college, he joined the Army.

Let it be said, with absolute truth, I love a man in uniform : )  But at no time in our year and a half of dating had Geoff ever expressed an interest in military service. And it was the shock of it, the out of the blue announcement that he was heading out into the world and I was stuck at the community college and living IN MY PARENTS' HOUSE that was the betrayal.

We didn't last to the end of the summer. But you probably saw that coming.

For what it's worth, I don't regret the decision I made. That is, I don't regret deciding to do my first year of college locally. I believe my life took the turns it was meant to, and certainly I could have applied to the University of A Thousand Miles Away at any time. What I do regret, what I would re-do if I could, is deciding against UATMA for a guy. For a guy! I still have trouble loving the me that made that decision. And oh! to have Wanda and Cosmo wave their magic fairy godparent wands and let me do that summer over. What a dream that would be! That one choice...


It was my faith in love, my belief in happily ever after, that guided me in that decision. I still believe in those things. And if I had it to do over again, I may never have spent those hours with my daughters, watching the Fairly Odd Parents and being happy. Also, my daughters would be without a mom who tells them every chance she can "make choices for yourself, not for some guy!"

YOUR TURN! What would YOU re-do? Share with us in the comments!



Kimberly said...

Oh, Jen! How I love this. Not that you put a dream on hold for a guy but that you are telling us about it. Too many girls (and women, for that matter) change the course of their lives for a guy. I'm always telling my girls to make their own decisions. To be a complete person--100% before entering into a relationship.
Although your life took a different turn, sometimes that's where it was meant to be. All those turns and curves in the road that lead you to the final destination.
Did you ever keep in touch with "Geoff"?
I think everyone wishes for a redo, but, if push comes to shove, we hesitate. Except for the life and death stuff, the rest you have to wonder about. Where would I be without the mistake? Where would I be today if I hadn't taken that detour?
Great story, Jen! And a great life lesson. Don't ever, EVER give up a dream or even dinner plans for a guy.

Pintip said...

Jen, thanks so much for sharing this with us. My heart breaks over this line -- "I never even sent my application." Not necessarily for you, because I know you have no regrets, but for a younger me and anyone else who's ever been in the situation of not even trying -- for whatever reason. A guy, fear of failure, whatever. That's what I would re-do if I could. I wouldn't let fear prevent me from trying. This was such a wonderful post, Jen!! Thank you!

Kristi Cook said...

Such a wonderful post, Jen--and it sounds like something I would have done. IF there had been a local community college in the small town I lived in then. Thankfully, there wasn't. But I sure would like to borrow that do-over wand some days!