Do you ever go down a residential street and feel a strange heartache? Not from feeling a dark pity for those who live there or a menacing jealousy. This is a heartache brought on by wonder of what else could have been. Not in a sense of missed opportunities or the ethically-troubling “there for the grace of God…,” but just a longing to know or understand the infinite other lives we could be leading right now. No? Just me? Whatevs.
When I feel this way, I wonder what other people’s lives are like in these homes. What is the day-to-day? Is there something they know, something they’ve unlocked that I haven’t and may never do? What have they seen or known, good/bad/indifferent, that I may never experience?
I thought about this often as I walked home to my flat in Glasgow some 7 years ago now. I’d look into the ground floor sitting rooms of lovely places and crummy places and everything in between and have that heartache for the lives I’d never know.
(As an aside, it should be noted that heartache is a comfortable state for me and not something I see as wholly negative. It is often satisfying. My mother claims this is because I was born into and spent my early years surrounded by family loss, tragedy, and heartache. This makes her feel guilty and I do not like that one bit.)
I thought it again recently as I drove through a coastal suburban street filled with bungalows and tidy yards and frosted bathroom windows. It is foreign to me and I felt an ache about it all that I couldn’t quite place or reconcile.
I love my life. I love my home. And I am also filled with an ever-present wanderlust. I want to try everything. I want to try being other people and living other places. But I am at peak comfort right now in both my location and self. Hot damn, I’ve made great strides of late in really loving who I am. This is a big deal for me. I’ve learned to not argue with compliments received. That’s a very big deal. It’s another phase or evolution/reinvention. Still, though, I have an itch for more. I just don’t know what that more is, nor do I believe I have the strength or interest to find out.
Anyway, I think that heartache is actually longing for access to unlimited alternate planes of existence where I could test out places and personalities and passions and careers and interests and selves. All somehow without any ramifications.
Let’s get on that, science. There’s just too much out there to miss out on.