My final class as an undergraduate was this past Wednesday. That fact, coupled with CC gchatting me recently to tell me that someone had lastchanced her (which introduced me to lastchance) had me feeling some kind of way about this guy (who shall remain moniker-less).
When I met this guy a full four years ago, during our Princeton visit weekend, I was kind of curious about him. He seemed like a person I would like to get to know. When we had a class together freshman fall, I was impressed by him intellectually, but my romantic interests were elsewhere at that time. By sophomore fall when an extracurricular activity brought us around each other regularly again for a little while, I felt that old There’s something about him that I want to know better creeping up again, but a friend of mine who knew him better than I did informed me of something that led me to feel like I’d be wasting my time/emotional energy developing that feeling, and a roommate of mine was basically appalled that I found him attractive, and I just took these things at face-value (*facepalm*) and left it on the back burner and kept doing my thing. [Insert semester-long flirtation with someone I’m no longer even remotely interested in or attracted to here.] While that was going on, he and I had class together again and started to commiserate about our professor and impending decisions about what to major in, and had I not been so preoccupied with the very slowly developing thing I had going on with other dude, this might have been the perfect time to make a move. But it came and it went.
By junior fall he was still on my short list, though I was still fully accepting hearsay which suggested that I was wasting my time. Junior spring: [insert relationship with my ex here]. I ran into him at a party the first week of senior year, and he did the whole, “We should hang out sometime…” thing, which had me so geeked that KS noticed and asked if I liked him. I confirmed, and I’m pretty sure K’s reaction was to say something vaguely approving and to the effect of I needed to be with someone bigger than me anyway (which the guy we’re talking about is). Then we got sorted into the same group for an extracurricular activity we both participate in, and I relished the chance to be near him and hear his thoughts/stories each week. All year, I have gone out of my way to see/hug/talk to him at parties or other social events, but at the same time, I’ve seen a few things that suggest confirmation of the thing my friend told me sophomore fall. I had resigned myself to just letting it go, but as I got to know him better through this activity we do, the vague interest I’d been harboring for years intensified. I found myself sometimes thinking about him.
I casually mentioned my interest in him to CC after she told me she had been lastchanced, and she told me I should go for it. I said, ‘What do you mean go for it? We have x-number of weeks left on this campus and after that we’ll be on opposite sides of the country.” She then argued that I could at least hook up with him. I may have surprised even myself when I responded that actually, I don’t think I could. I don’t want to hook up with him; I would date him. To quote ChoosingPancakes, “I [would] relationship the shit out of him.” And I think that means that even if I could lose myself in a hypothetical moment and make something happen with him, it would just be damaging in the long run.
And when I realized that, I cursed myself for not having acted on it earlier. I realized that this might be one of the few things I legitimately *regret* about my time at Princeton.
But when I was talking to CC and making her sad at my resolution to let it go, I came to another realization: “Honestly, while I’ve been vaguely interested in him for a while, I don’t think that an earlier version of me would have been anything other than adverse to the idea of pursuing anything with him [for reasons I’ve detailed above]. I feel like my deeper interest now is related to my being the person I’ve become. So I can’t regret it too much.”
And that realization has made me kind of question the concept of regret in general. I think it’s fundamentally based on an “If I knew then what I know now” mindset, and that’s just impractical, infeasible, and unproductive. So I used to try to say I live with no regrets somewhat facetiously, but now I’m going to try to mean it. Experience is the best teacher, and regret is a wasteful feeling. If I wish I had known in the past what I know in the present, I must be wishing away both long-ago-past and recent past experiences, which would mean wishing away myself. And I am certainly not something I regret.
A quote from a comic about genderqueer/trans identity that I’m including in a final project for my feminism class:
“I have always been becoming what I am right now.”