Coulda and Shoulda Are Words We Don’t Use

THEY ONLY DEPRESS US AND GIVE US THE BLUES.

CAROL BURNETT AS EUNICE

Words to live by, chanted by Carol Burnett (well, her character Eunice) during her visit to a psychiatrist on the last episode of “The Carol Burnett Show.”

“I CHOSE AND MY WORLD WAS SHAKEN.  SO WHAT.
THE CHOICE MAY HAVE BEEN MISTAKEN. THE CHOOSING WAS NOT.”

My father used to call my mother the queen of the I SHOULDA Club and, sometimes, the queen of the IF IDA Club.  Regret is a terrible thing.  If you regret a decision and you are able — or are willing — to do something about it, then fine.  But, regretting choices you’ve made that can never (or will never) be changed is just a tremendous waste of energy.

My mother wastes a lot of energy.  She still regrets buying a new dining room set in 1964.  She hated it the minute she bought it.  She has regretted that dining room set for more than 46 years.  She refuses to replace it, but continues to comment — at every opportunity — that she never “shoulda” bought it.

I, too, waste a lot of energy.

“THERE’S ONLY NOW. THERE’S ONLY THIS.”

I spend many nights working on my attitude — while trying to fall asleep — by singing the lyrics from “Move On” (from “Sunday in the Park With George”).  When that doesn’t work quickly enough, I “move on” to “Life Support” (from “Rent”)… “Forget regret or life is yours to miss.”

I’m assuming that I get to keep my “gay card” for another year by referencing two Broadway musicals (and “The Carol Burnett Show”) in one post.

So, what am I working hard to not say “IF IDA” about?  Everything.

Retirement, our move to Spain, budgeting, and reviewing so much history as we go through our things has me rehashing every major move and every major life change we’ve made over the years.  Twenty-nine and counting, remember?

I’ve mentioned before: We have retirement income.  I’ve also mentioned before that we would have had a lot more retirement income had we not made some of our major moves and taken some of those major chances over the years.  So here goes: 1) if Jerry hadn’t retired so soon; 2) IF IDA held on to my business and waited for the economy to turn around; 3) IF IDA kept my corporate job; 4) if Jerry hadn’t left his position in Santa Barbara; 5) If we hadn’t poured all our money into a hotel (right before 9/11/01); 6) if we hadn’t poured all our money into a niche market hotel — the same one — with a limited following (right before 9/11/01); 7) if we both hadn’t left our jobs at Berkeley; 8) if we had held onto our house in San Francisco; 9) if we both hadn’t left our jobs at UC San Diego; 10) if we had held onto our house in San Diego; 11) if we both hadn’t left our jobs at Yale…

We left Yale in 1993.  I can then go back to buying the money pit in Connecticut in 1988, renovating it, and then selling it when the market was weak.  Years before that was a move from Boston to L.A. to Washington, D.C. (1982/1983) over a period of seven months — all paid for by us.  If only Jerry hadn’t left his huge corporate job in Boston and I my position there to move from Boston to L.A. (and back again). And… then… IF IDA stayed in my position with the graphic design firm in L.A.

And this is when I realize I am nearly back to my mother’s dining room set.

So, no more singing Broadway show tunes (well, I lie), but from now on, any time the words “I shoulda” or “If Ida” pop into my head, I will simply chant “dining room set.”

I am now healed… mostly.

IF IDA SEEN THAT BASEBALL BAT FLYING AT ME IN 1962.