Relationships

What’s Your ‘Sliding Doors’ Moment?

Sliding Doors

Last week, I walked down a street I had almost lived on…

…with another person, in another time, and I wondered, “What if…?”

In the movie Sliding Doors, Gwyneth Paltrow plays Helen, a woman whose life goes in two wildly different directions based on whether she does or doesn’t catch a train. In the first scenario, she dodges onto the train and arrives home to discover her boyfriend in bed with another woman. In the second, she just misses catching him and he strings her along for weeks as her life continues on a downward spiral.

In the movie, Helen’s character sports two different hairstyles — a chic blonde crop that quickly became the hairstyle of the moment and a mousey brown ‘do that hangs limply around her increasingly sullen expressions. (The latter was actually a wig.)

More than twenty years after its release date, the movie (along with the fashion!) holds up, even if it is riddled with 90s-era instrumentals — ominous violins during the scary moments, and tinkling sounds like an enchanted pixie harp whenever something good is about to happen.

If the film remains a cultural touchstone, it has everything to do with the central question. “What if that one little thing had happened differently?” There will always be roads not taken, missed moments and unmade choices. There will always be selves we never get to encounter.

What if I’d never gone to that party or answered that email or taken that job? What if I’d moved to another city? What if I’d answered that interview question in a different way? It’s enough to make your mind explode.

Even so, imagining an alternate existence can be kind of fun, like an actor trying on characters. Maybe the grown-up me I pictured in my youth — an early rising, briefcase-toting corporate lawyer with a severe bobbed haircut — does exist, in another dimension. Maybe she had children, or lives in Oregon, or bought a home in the town where I grew up.

The more I’ve spoken to people about this, the more it seems like everyone has their own “sliding doors” stories.

“If I hadn’t had a crush on this guy, I wouldn’t have moved to New York,” reports Sally. “Nothing wound up happening with him, but that move changed my entire life!”

“Years ago, I was trying to get pregnant while working at a job I hated,” reports another friend. “It didn’t happen, and I wound up taking another job that ultimately launched my career. I’ll sometimes think, if I’d gotten pregnant right away, my life would have been completely different.”

“If I hadn’t shown up to a certain dinner party, I wouldn’t have met my husband,” says Maureen. “And if he hadn’t walked in late, I might not have noticed him. So many ifs.”

In my own life, I can point to myriad chance encounters — the job I applied for because I had a snow day, the random Google search that yielded an apartment, the bet that led to meeting my boyfriend (a story for another day). If you shift any of these variables by just a few degrees, the entire landscape changes.

But the question I keep coming back to is this: What wisdom does this alternate version of you have to offer? It can be easy to gaze down the road not taken and imagine it might have been smoother. But if you could meet the person who took that path, they would likely find so much to like about your life.

As a tarot card reader once told me, when I posed a question about my career, “The bus is definitely coming. The question is, will you get on it?” Is THIS the bus? Have I missed the bus? I’d wonder, at every proverbial turn. Now, I like to think that a bus is always coming, the doors constantly opening and closing before taking off in new directions. Life unfolds like a web, where different moments lead to different paths, all of them intersecting in ways we can’t always understand. Sometimes, the best we can do is wait for the next bus. Or train. Or job. Or whatever. And know that wherever it’s headed is going to be an adventure.

Have you had any Sliding Doors moments? Who are you in an alternate universe?

P.S. 12 women share the best career advice they’ve ever received and what advice would you give your younger self?

(Illustration by Alessandra Olanow for Cup of Jo.)

  1. Susan Tharel says...

    It may be somewhere in the comments but who is the artist of these lovely illustrations?

  2. JMN says...

    I just finished reading “Recursion”, which has the basis of basically a time machine — you can use this chair to go back to an old memory and change whatever happened. As I read it, I just kept thinking that there is nothing I’d want to go back and change, because then I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’m curious about the “what if”s, but I love my life too much to really change it.

    My favorite “sliding doors” moment from my life is when I was late to a church meeting (and I hate being late, I’m never late), so I looked around to see who had an open seat next to them and plopped down there. I whispered to the guy next to me: “What did I miss?”, and he ended up being cute and thinking I was cute. Just over a year later, we got married. He LOVES to tell people that story of the one time I was late, and it resulted in us becoming us.

  3. Kelly says...

    my kids are adopted, so it is really mind boggling to think about all the randomness that had to come together for these 2 kids to end up with us! And, because adoption is so deliberate and so so long (for us anyways), it’s so very easy to picture the moments we could have made different decisions and not adopted at all, or adopted only our first daughter. Sometimes i used to wish for a ‘sliding doors’ moment where an accident carries you down a path (like a whoopsie pregnancy) instead of all the deliberate decisions and steps of adoption…

    • Meghan says...

      I so relate to this! My cousin is adopted, and I truly get panicky when I think about the possibility that in some alternate universe she could have been with some other family instead of ours. She is so perfectly one of us, we often forget that she doesn’t actually share our DNA. “Oh, you get your appetite from Popo (grandma). You’re such a good dancer, just like Gong-gong (grandpa)!”

    • Bec says...

      @Meghan I love it when I come across other people to have a Gong Gong :) Mine was really special.

  4. Laura says...

    I was in first year University, and i had just broken up with a not serious boyfriend so my friend suggested I come to her dorm and out with her friends that night. I didn’t know anyone but her. She had a boyfriend back home but joked that her date that night was Eric, and I said I needed a date, and plus, I was single!

    She said, you can have max! And yelled, ‘maaaax!’ and the guy who lived next door to her poked his head in. She said, ‘this is Laura, you’re her date for the night, don’t leave her.’ it was winter and very cold and I’d forgotten my mittens, so every block he would wordlessly change sides and hold my other hand on the way to the party. Much later that night, we ended up at a dive bar and he carved MS + LD in a heart on the table and we shared our first kiss.

    reader, i married him.

    • Connie says...

      Laura. This is so cute I can’t stand it. You can’t make this stuff up. Gah.

    • P says...

      GET OUT OF TOWN. I want a YA book about this. And a movie.

  5. Lyn says...

    I am loving reading all these moments in the comments!

    While I’m so grateful for my current path… I do love to ponder those “Sliding doors” moments… the main one that sticks out to me is in my early post college days- I was in a suburban town, and desperately trying to get out, and move to somewhere more urban. I applied to grad school… and got waitlisted. Ugh. Then I applied for a job in a bigger city… and got called back for second interview. And then… the 2008 housing bubble burst- and that job (involving housing) completely evaporated. They called me to tell me they couldn’t make the offer now, even though they would have chosen me. The NEXT WEEK I met my (now) husband for our first date. I still do wonder what I’d have achieved with the move I was so desperate for, but I love my Husband and our little family we’ve made so much. I did catch the train I was meant to get on. (But peak out the window still to wonder what the missed connection may have had instore)

  6. Honestly, no “sliding doors” moments really pop into my brain. I’m the kind of person that things don’t just happen to – I really work for everything I want and feel strongly about every decision I’ve made.
    I do hope that I recall a few sliding doors moments because they seem romantic <3 Maybe mine has yet to happen!

  7. Nina Nattiv says...

    Isn’t every moment of life a sliding doors moment?

    One night, many years ago, my very pregnant friend decided she HAD to go to Trader Joe’s just before it closed on a Sunday night. I joined her, on the off chance that it was the last time I would see her before she had the baby. As I was walking around, I noticed an older couple that looked very familiar. Then I realized it was my ex-boyfriends parents. They lived in San Francisco, but we were in LA. They were randomly in town and picking up snacks before their flight the next morning. My ex and I reconnected and, after almost a decade of being apart, got back together and then got married. But I honestly believe we would have reconnected somehow.

  8. Dana says...

    Love this conversation and love this movie!
    Shameless plug (please delete if not appropriate!): my husband wrote a book about synchronicity – those meaningful coincidences that are hard to explain. So many sliding doors moments are like synchronicities. If anyone is interested, the book is called “Living in Flow: The Science of Synchronicity and How Your Choices Shape Your World”, available everywhere and totally appropriate for the lay person as well as someone more interested in the science behind these things. He also has an online course about this and that info can be found at https://skynelson.com/course

  9. Kara says...

    I have a few sliding door moments that I can pinpoint: applying for a job in Alaska on a whim, which ultimately ended a stagnant relationship and led to meeting the love of my life; moving from Chicago to Seattle to be closer to family – and then for YEARS after this move I could imagine the alternate universe in which we still lived in Chicago so vividly it seemed like an actual place that I could just slip sideways into at any time. But what about all the moments that went the other way? Times where I missed a bus or didn’t walk down a certain street and missed out on something BIG? It’s wild to contemplate.

  10. Amelia says...

    Lovely post! I thought I would share a wonderful party a friend had on this theme: when she turned 30 she asked each of her guests to share a 2-5 minute story about a choice they made in their 20’s and the “other life” they left behind because of it. It was amazing! Of course people took it in different directions (silly and trivial to intense and consequential) and we learned such incredible things about the guests – their current and past lives and the choices they’d made. You can imagine how fantastic the party conversations were after we had all shared…

  11. Steph says...

    I always thought I’d go to New England for college. I had a specific tiny private liberals arts college vision, and when this didn’t work out and I ended up at a state school closer to home, I was bummed. But then I met my future wife and current best friends and I can’t imagine things turning out any other way.

  12. Robin says...

    A friend and I had a very similar life path until we both decided to move to the UK. We grew up on the west coast, took art history together at university, and separately moved to the UK to study. She eventually found work in exhibition design, met her husband, and settled there. Whereas I, feeling homesick and somewhat alienated by life in Britain, returned home, went back to school, and am now a public servant. I am happy back home, happy in my work, and happily single. Yet I often wonder – is her life the one I might have had if I stayed in the UK?

  13. Annie says...

    My boss asked me on a Monday evening if I wanted to fly from NYC to the office in Charlotte, NC early the next morning and stay there for the week to get a ton of work done that I was working on with people there. I said sure why not, booked my flight for 6 am the next morning, and was in Charlotte just hours later. That was the day I met my husband who was in town from the office in London. He had been in town for nearly 2 weeks and was leaving Thursday evening, so we spent two evenings together and have talked everyday since 2.5 years later. Now I’m living in London with him and have a completely different, amazing life that I love! We absolutely met by chance.

    And I also think back to how many times I nearly left that job before we met and how different my life would be if I had. I’m happy I didn’t. :)

  14. Sally says...

    Oh GAWD, I love hearing about “Sliding Door Moments”.

    Massive musical theatre nerd right here… One day, right before I was about to go to work, I was watching random theatre clips on YouTube and spotted one that caught my eye about ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’. One of my favourite films as a kid. Had a whole internal dialogue about whether I had time to watch it… I didn’t. But I watched it anyway, and fell in love with the guy playing Quasimodo… Went to work thinking about it, came home, watched it again and again…
    Found out who the actor was, stalked him on Instagram, then started stalking his boyfriend…
    Fell in love with the boyfriend. Who months later announced he was coming to London to do a show. Went to the show and got chatting to the guy sat next to me. Said guy is now one of my very best friends.
    Basically met my best friend because I made myself late for work, watching YouTube videos.

  15. Jaime says...

    I applied, on a whim (and barely missing the deadline) to study abroad at Oxford when I was in college. The study abroad advisor snorted and said I was way too late and that ‘no one would accept you with *that* GPA.’ Well, I was accepted and that semester abroad led to me meeting my now-husband and a life and publishing career in London, with a toddler son and, eventually, British citizenship. So, I always wonder … what if I hadn’t followed my instincts and ignored that snooty advisor?

  16. Linsey says...

    In 2011, my then-boyfriend broke up with me while we were in DC for a weekend getaway. I drove his loser a$$ back to Philly and sobbed the entire way. Definitely the worst heartbreak in my life.

    Had he not ended things with me, I wouldn’t have gotten the urge to take the bull by the horns. I got a cat, registered for the GMAT, and started studying. Almost a year to the day from the breakup, I quit my full-time job, became a GA on campus, and started my MBA as a full-time student. I graduated in 2014 and met my now-husband a few months later. We married in 2016, had our first baby in 2018, and are expecting our second baby in 2020.

    One of the worst days ended up putting me on a much better path.

  17. Erin says...

    I love thinking about this stuff, and Sliding Doors is in my top 10 movies.
    I’d like to think I would have met my husband no matter what and here’s why: Fifteen years ago I was supposed to go to a wedding with my then-boyfriend, but we broke up a few months beforehand. If we hand’t broken up, I might have met my now-husband at the wedding, with his then-wife. And he would have been very (unhappily) married and I was in a rocky relationship, so who knows what might have happened. But a few years later, I met my then-newly divorced husband at a coffee shop. And we chatted for a long time. On our third date, we ran into the mutual friends whose wedding he attended and whose wedding I did not. It was a revelation that we even had mutual friends. That’s when we realized we might have met a few years earlier, but neither of us was ready to.

    • I often think that I wasn’t ready to meet my husband until I did too. We were born in the same hospital a few weeks a part. I decided at the last minute to go to a different high school. Had I decided to go to that school, my husband and I would have been at the same school, same grade. A year after I graduated college, I went with a friend to her church. A group of us became really good friends. Almost a year after that, enter my husband out of the blue and everyone in our close knit group knows him but me. Turns out they had all grown up with him since elementary school. The more we got to know each other, the more we saw how our lives seemed to circle around each other without connecting until we finally did.

  18. Lisa says...

    My husband flew home early to NYC on Sept 10, 2001 from a conference so we could conceive our first born as the I was ovulating and we had experienced a miscarriage a few months earlier. We would have had different children (we have since added 2 more) and a whole different life story if he had not come home early. I am so immensely grateful.

    • Erin says...

      Lisa this gives me chills. So so so glad he came home early!

  19. Kristin says...

    I’m in the thick of child-raising years. My oldest is eight and I have had a sort of mid-mom crisis recently, realizing how quickly the years are going. So I have made a conscious decision to focus on my family, not my career right now. I turned down an incredible chance at my dream job that literally fell into my lap last winter because the time commitment was too great, but I will never stop wondering, ‘what if?’ I thought I had found complete peace with my decision until I saw a photo of the person who ultimately took my dream job on an amazing international business trip. It stung hard. She is childless and on an upward trajectory; I am holding down a pretty big job and trying to be supermom, but I feel very stagnant. I think most women have a sliding-door moment revolving around having or not having children, and the secret of life is probably figuring out how to be fully happy where you are. (P.S. I LOVE this movie and have thought about it so often since first seeing it 20+ years ago!)

    • I hear you Kristin. The same happened to me, only, I took the job and after 1 month on it- I had to choose between my family and my job. The putting your feet on 2 boats and expect both of them to sail well didn’t work. I chose family over career growth, money and cool opportunities. It was a deliberate decision, stings none the less.

    • agnes says...

      Kristin, maybe you don’t know your dream job yet! (it’s one of those buses). I feel those moments help you work on what is really important, deep inside and prepare you to accomplish it, eventually.

  20. Cymbidy says...

    When I was a teenager, my dad was drinking with my uncle and reminiscing about days gone by. Forgetting I was in the room, they recalled the woman my dad almost married because they thought she was pregnant (!!). Then my dad noticed me, and since it was too late anyway, said: “Meet your half-sister, the Benign Cyst!” (He and my uncle exploded w laughter, leaving me wide-eyed to process the idea that my dad had had sex before my mom! lol) So I guess that was *his* sliding doors moment.

    • Melanie says...

      Lol! That’s exactly my reaction when I realized my parents had other partners before I came along.

  21. I was at a three-week government camp at Georgetown between my junior and senior year of high school and had a soft spot for the campus Taco Bell. Only one other student from the program, Michael, ate there and we became friendly, discussing future college plans and such (nothing more – I had a boyfriend). The last day of the program, they printed out photos for students to take and I grabbed one of Michael, intending to give it to him but never getting the chance. We briefly spoke when we found out we both got admitted to Harvard and ended up running into each other in the cafeteria line on move-in day. We quickly became best friends and started dating a year later (after I broke up with that high school boyfriend). Years later, he proposed over a Taco Bell picnic and now we have fourteen years and two children thanks to the luck of campus food service. And I still have the picture printout!

  22. Elizabeth says...

    You ask, “What wisdom does this alternate version of you have to offer?” I think in some ways it shows the inherent flimsiness of our lives–lives that we often think are much more stalwart than they actually are. It’s possible to read this as cynical, but I find it more freeing. It’s freeing to know that at any time we can change our mind, and therefore change our lives.

    • Sooji says...

      This is a beautiful reflection, Elizabeth. Thank you for sharing.

    • NM says...

      “It’s freeing to know that at any time we can change our mind, and therefore change our lives.”

      As someone in the midst of just such a change— it was great to see the sentiment written out. We are always free to change.

  23. Elly says...

    My senior year of college I went back to my dorm after working on a student theater show. I was fully intending to stay in watching Parks and Recreation on Netflix for the rest of the night. But then my friend called me and begged me to come meet him and some other friends at a bar. I kept pushing back, saying I was tired, but he absolutely insisted I come. So I dragged myself out of bed, put on my pants again, and went out. We left the bar shortly for another friend’s apartment and started playing drinking games. After a while some another friend showed up with a guy in tow that I’d never met before. He was in her (co-ed) frat and they’d been at an event together beforehand. I wound up going over and talking to him because he was sitting by himself and we hit it off.

    I knew I was moving to NYC after graduation and he was two years behind me, but he and I decided to give it a shot. It’s six years later and we’re married now, and because he’s from Europe we’ve gotten to take so many amazing adventures around the continent both by ourselves and with his family. I still think about what would have happened if I hadn’t gone to the bar that night at my friend’s insistence: I would’ve done online dating in New York, and probably been miserable. Or maybe I would’ve met someone, but it would’ve been an entirely different life for me, one without Christmases in Switzerland and summers in small-town Bavaria.

    I also transferred colleges after my freshman year, which opens up a whole other set of “Sliding Doors” possibilities. In fact, if I hadn’t transferred schools, I certainly wouldn’t have met my husband.

  24. I have two that immediately come to mind!

    1. In 2013, just after I finished graduate school, a job opportunity in Bombay came up that was my dream job at the time. It was an executive director position for a nonprofit that I love (still support them to this day), and I was one of two finalists for the position. I was living in the States at the time and was trying desperately to move back to India, but sadly I was not offered the job. I wound up moving back to Bangalore the following year for a different job, one that I wasn’t as excited about but that got me back to India, and it wasn’t the job for me. I often wonder what would have happened if I had made it back to Bombay instead. Would I still be there? Would I still have become disillusioned with life in India and have wound up back in the States again anyway? So many of my life decisions hinged on not getting that job, and I wonder how those would have changed if I had been able to get that job.

    2. This past spring I met a man at a bar. We happened to sit next to each other at the bar and struck up a conversation. Two hours later we shut down the place and it was time to go our separate ways. We walked outside, and in my head I was going to ask for his number while waiting for my Lyft. He lives in a different city on the other side of the country and was leaving the following morning, so what did I have to lose? And then. Rather than the usual 4-minute wait for a ride, the car was quite literally across the street. We both got flustered, I got cold feet, and we hugged a goodbye. So, Jo(h)n from Seattle: if you read this and find yourself back in Memphis, Pablo at Catherine & Mary’s knows how to get in touch with me.

    • Jackie says...

      Oh no Veena! You have two that didn’t work out the way you’d hoped. I hope right door opens for you soon.

    • Dana says...

      This reminds me of how Craigslist used to have a “missed connections” section. I know people who got married after re-finding each other there! I hope you find your Jo(h)n, Veena!

  25. R says...

    This is so interesting! It’s tempting to say things like “If I hadn’t sneezed in that restaurant that one time, I never would have met my husband.” But you’d have sneezed in a different restaurant, a different guy would have leaned over with a tissue, and then THEY would have been your partner. And that life would feel just as real and right to you as your current one does.

    It freaks me out to think how easily my life could have been different if I’d have woken up a bit later one day, or missed a bus, or gone to a different college — and all the people I may not know, or jobs I might not have had, as a result. But that only feels weird because of the perspective I have currently. If I went back in time and went to a different school, then that would have been my life, and that’s OK. I think this is helpful in not worrying about all the “what ifs?” from the past, or ones coming up in the future.

    • Loesie says...

      Thank you for your comment-I love Sliding Doors for so many reasons- but I sometimes tend to get stuck in thinking about what if’s. This puts things in perspective. Thanks!

  26. SEVDI says...

    Believing in alternate universes can be a blessing or a curse depending on how you look at life. I happen to have quite a few regrets, so I tend to focus on how my life would have turned out better had I made different choices, better choices. I’m angry with myself for missing the right trains, getting on the wrong trains, not having the courage to get on the trains, sometimes not even leaving the house so I could make it to the station to get on the train – any train. Whenever I’m disappointed with my life, I imagine all the other lives I’m missing out on. I’m jealous of the alternate “me”s. I have to stop and remind myself that at least some of those “me”s must be worse off than I am.

    • Jackie says...

      Hi Sevdi – I moved NYC for college after a really difficult childhood, but NYC was the antidote to all that – so much opportunity, and none of the barriers that are often present in rural/suburban life. While in school, I applied to tons of internships and realized how few other people applied. I was surprised that more people didn’t see that they could do the job, even if they had never done something like that before. My whole career and personal life since that time has been defined by working just a little bit harder, pushing just a little bit more, and turning that diamond-in-the-rough into a real sparkler. Not that you asked for advice. But your post made me think that you may need to push yourself a little more – and you’d maybe be surprised at all that opens up to you.

    • S says...

      I think it’s ok to be compassionate with yourself for making the choices you have made at the times you made them! You had your reasons. And you’re right, who knows if those other trains would have made you happier or sadder. I find it helpful sometimes to think about this parable: https://medium.com/@jaymavs/maybe-so-maybe-not-well-see-c35f53da68e1
      I can relate to how you feel and hope you will find some peace in the uncertainty. Warm wishes!

    • SEVDI says...

      Thank you.

  27. Amanda says...

    I started a thing with a guy when I was 25 and he was 30 and when I dropped that I was thinking about leaving our hometown, we didn’t pursue it any further, which was hard for both of us. (The irony is that I have still not left and we live maybe 20 minutes away from each other.) But some stuff came out later that made it very clear that we weren’t great for each other (e.g., he is much more conservative than I am on a number of levels). Anyway, we’re 34 and 39 now. He’s married and has two little girls and is generally pretty happy; I am single and in a great career (and crushing on another guy) and am generally pretty happy.

  28. Katie says...

    “…a bus is always coming…”

    I love that image — it’s kind of comforting to think of life that way. Thank you.

  29. Samita says...

    If I hadn’t decided to take the long way to walk to my friend’s apartment, I would never have crossed paths with my now husband on the street. We had met briefly a week before, but running into each other let us really chat and led to our first date. I sometimes wonder, what would have happened if had turned right out of my apartment instead of left? Would we have ever met?

    It’s things like this that make me wonder if the universe does have some set of plans for us. Maybe not one specific plan, but multiple plans that could play out depending on our choices in the moment.

  30. Lorraine says...

    My husband and I met in a park. I was not even from that city, only visiting for a few days, and I had a day to wander around by myself.

    I randomly found this park and sat for a while. My husband walked by on his way to work and smiled at me, and that was that. A few minutes later, I got up to leave and continue my walk, but I found a newspaper at a different bench near the exit and sat down to read it. My husband then re-appeared, slightly surprised to find me sitting in a different spot. He held out his hand and introduced himself. He had gone all the way to work, but decided to come back so we could meet. We chatted for a while, and he was surprised to hear that I was living in Brooklyn, but happy to say that he was going to actually be in NYC on a work trip later that month. After a brief park bench chat in Portland, OR, we went on our first date in NYC. 15 years later, here we are with two kids and living in NJ down the street from my parents. I have a photo of the park from that very day hanging in our hallway – probably taken about 10 minutes before he walked by.

    • Mercy says...

      Wow I absolutely love this story! Thanks for sharing :)

    • Kristen says...

      This gave me the chills! Beautiful story, Lorraine.

  31. Erin G. says...

    This post is so close to my heart, Caroline. I referenced the movie in my maid of honor speech at my best friend’s wedding many years ago (something to the affect of, “We made all the trains we were supposed to make.”). And, it also reminds me of one of my favorite quotes of all time from one of my favorite writers:

    “I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.”

    ― Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things

    • Jess C says...

      I thought of this Cheryl Strayed quote as well — one of my favorites. I also love that idea of your speech, so beautiful!

  32. AS says...

    Just thinking about all the numerous sliding door moments in my own life is dizzying and anxiety inducing if I try to focus too much on just one…best to let those ghost ships sail past me without another thought.

    BUT, as I am battling jet lag and woke up at 4am this morning, I did finally watch the movie Sliding Doors today and WOW, how crazy! GP looks so different. YAY for lead actors and actresses looking and dressing like normal people instead of models.

    • Deb says...

      Agreed! We need more films where people just look normal! I love glamour as much as the next person but I love shows with people who feel more relatable too!

  33. Michaela says...

    The moment that comes to the top of my mind is when I was applying to colleges. I had made my decision to attend a small, private university, and I was really excited. But at the last minute, my parents became worried about the funding and we weren’t sure we were going to be able to make it work. I applied to a state school just days before their application closed, feeling a little bummed. I got in, and I was making plans to attend there instead, when my parents decided we could figure out the financing and it would be okay. I ended up meeting my eventual husband at that small private university, so it was worth the investment to me in more ways than one! I know if I had attended that state school, I still would have graduated with my career skills and I possibly even would have found a great partner there too, but it could have all been so different. My husband is just such a remarkable person, and we’ve contributed to each others’ growth so much—I can’t imagine who I’d be if I hadn’t met him.

  34. Renee says...

    I don’t really believe in what if’s (more of a if it’s meant to be it’ll happen type) But just wanted to say sometime buses come around more than once. I meant this guy at a party the first summer I lived in DC at a house party a colleague invited me too. Right when I saw him I knew. Palms sweaty, heart racing, stomach in knots, and I hadn’t even talked to him yet. We ended up hanging out for a few months, but we never got together. There was all this attraction and chemistry but  things just imploded. We were cruel to each other, which I chalk up to being young and dumb and not knowing what to do when you  like someone *so* much, too much really, overwhelming, all-consuming in the worst way. Anyway, I see him often, at least twice a year, bars, restaurants, wherever. I literally saw him this past Saturday. What’s funny is the colleague that invited me to that party is now a good friend, and has invited me to other parties, but he’s never at them. That’s why I’m confident I would have met him in some other way. Somethings in life are meant to be, even if you’re not meant to be.

  35. Becca says...

    I think I know my sliding doors alternate life husband. We have the most insane connections to random people. We both studied in the same city in Europe at the same time 12 years ago. It takes my breath away at what might have happened if I went to the college I was considering instead of the one I chose and met him 15 years ago. We’re both happily married and live in different cities now, but I might always wonder “what if?”

  36. Amanda says...

    My life was completely changed by a Slurpee.

    The week before I was about to leave to start my freshman year at college, my best friend convinced me that we needed to go for one last Slurpee before we set off on our separate adventures. Unfortunately, on our walk over, we were hit by a car. Both of us are perfectly happy and healthy but a few broken bones and a fracture vertebrae meant that college was now a little further off than we had planned.

    I started college that January, moving into a completely different dorm than had been assigned to me the summer before and making completely different friends. The next spring, one of those friends introduced me to a guy, a guy I spent the next ten years growing up with, finding love with, living with, and saying I do with just last month.

    I may not have gotten my Slurpee but I got the love of my life and I couldn’t be more grateful.

  37. Julie says...

    I met my husband on a road trip with a group of mutual friends when we were 22. He contemplated backing out the night before. Thankfully, he didn’t. We fell in love after 8 days, engaged the following year, and now married for 6 years.

    The thing is, though, as much as I believe that my life would be different…that life is the result of a series of choices, I also know deep down that there are people I was/am going to meet no matter what. They are people of varying degrees of closeness – my best friend from college that I don’t see much now, a co-worker from my first job who has since moved away, and my husband. If he hadn’t gone on the trip, I am certain we would have crossed paths in another way. I believe there’s a magnetic energy that draws certain people to you and that exists despite our choices or the choices made for us. Catch that bus or not, if they are meant to have an impact on you, they’ll find you.

  38. mina says...

    Our third child wasn’t completely planned. We had been talking about a third, but the timing wasn’t great. And there are a number of parallell dimensions in which she simply doesn’t happen. Now of course, it’s completely impossible to imagine a life without our daughter. Thinking of those small decisions that went one way or the other and could have resulted in a family without her blows my mind.

  39. Kim says...

    I met my husband on the train 14 years ago. My life would be VERY different if I had sat in a different seat!

    • ks says...

      @kim that’s the kind of ‘sliding door’ moment I love. what a random (and wonderful) coincidence.

  40. mina says...

    And on the other hand, at the end of sliding doors, the mousey version of the girl ends up meeting the good guy anyways. I find that sort of comforting. That maybe, the things that are meant to happen, the people you are meant to meet, maybe they happen anyways, even if some of those small decisions go in a different direction.

  41. Jessica says...

    Three and a half years ago, my husband and I decided to move across the country, to a place we’d never been, to try something new. A friend happened to live in that city. I considered this friend close — in the way that you consider college friends close because you can meet up every few years and it feels like no time has passed. If we hadn’t picked that city at that time, I never would have become so heartachingly close to my friend and her husband. I could never have imagined how amazing they are, how I never knew how amazing they are, and how I miss them all the time! I would have missed out on that entire element of our friendship, including getting to know and love her husband, if we hadn’t made that move. After two and a half years in that city, we ended up moving back to our original city because of a can’t-be-turned-down job, but I feel so lucky to have had the chance to know this friend in a new and enduring way! (Just writing this brings tears to my eyes!)

  42. Em says...

    I decided to go to college on the East Coast, despite being born and raised in the “Minnesota Nice” pocket of the world and having a high school sweetheart who wanted both of us to stay local and stay together (which didn’t happen). My college wasn’t a perfect fit and I thought of transferring many times- but I ended up sticking it out because I made some incredible friends- namely a dear friend from Colorado. After I finished my degree he invited a bunch of us out for a fourth of July weekend– and introduced me to his childhood best friend who in turn became my now long term partner. I now look back and think what my life would have been if I had stayed in the Midwest for my education, or if I had transferred before meeting my friend, and if I would have met my partner by fate some other way!

  43. Lindsey says...

    I met my husband at a wedding I didn’t want to go to, but my best friend made me. After we were married and tried to have babies, the babies didn’t come. Years of trying and treatments later, my sisters sister-in-law offered to have a baby for us. Today that baby is nine years old, and I often do the sliding door scenario about her. Because so many things had to happen for her to be here, perfect and funny and true. What if I didn’t go to the wedding? What if my sister hadn’t met her husband? So many twists and turns that led me here, it takes my breath away.

  44. Amanda says...

    Sitting in this notion that I may have been on the wrong side of the sliding door is anxiety inducing, but I love the idea that “the bus is always coming.” How empowering and hopeful!

  45. Connie says...

    Oh man. I can’t WAIT to come back and read all of these (definitely my lunch hour today!). I LOVE that movie! It’s so interesting to think about!
    For me the most obvious one is the college I went to. My parents kind of “Forced” me to choose it-a tiny liberal arts school a state away instead of the big state school I wanted to go to. I met my husband there, my closest friends, I grew up in Significant ways there, etc, etc. If I would have gone with the state school I wanted to pick, who would I be? Where would I be? Fascinating.
    But I think my most recent Sliding Doors thing is about chairs in our church. A year ago, I was going to church like any normal Sunday, but that particular sunday, the frontman of the church band chose to sit in the chair in front of me that day, and because of that he was within earshot of my singing. And because he sat in that chair and discovered (MUCH to his surprise) my voice, he approached me to come and check out a rehearsal, see if I maybe wanted to give it a spin. Ordinarily I am a shy introvert (who did not realize my voice was anything ‘extra’), but I decided to go and now my Music Life has just cracked wide open in the last year and being a vocalist is one of the biggest joys in my life-if he hadn’t sat in that chair that one single day…this whole person I’m discovering would never have been invited to emerge in me. What a powerful thing to consider, the fragility of the gifts we get to experience. One chair’s difference. huh.

    • Jessica says...

      That’s so cool! Most of these are about partners or friendships (which are also very cool) but I love that you found an unexpected gift/talent.

  46. Eileen says...

    I have so many of these moments! Those random times when I just say Yes to things that take me a little bit out of my comfort zone and put me in places I could never have even imagined.
    We had to watch this movie in a college philosophy course I took. So very interesting.

  47. Micah Lambert says...

    I quit a grad program in Germany. It was a tough decision, but I don’t regret it at all. Basically whenever I think about what I would be like if I stayed, I think I would be cold. Very cold. And probably more punctual!

  48. Genevieve Martin says...

    I was sitting in a meeting when I got an email from my landlord saying they had decided to sell my flat and I had to move out just 6 months after I’d moved in. I remember it vividly because I was so shocked and upset to have to uproot AGAIN when I’d only JUST got settled in this flat in Bristol after living in 5 different flats in 3 cities already that year (I’d been following some opportunities to try and work out where I wanted to be and what job to do but had settled on Bristol and wanted to stay long-term).
    BUT, my sister’s good friend was relocating to Bristol from London and we decided to look for a flat together. It turned out to be the best thing, she became a good friend and living with her was so much more joyful and fun filled than living on my own and I finally settled into Bristol properly as she dragged me out to all sorts of events and we met lots of people.
    It seemed like such an out of the blue decision from my landlord but if I’d stayed I would have carried on being quite lonely and probably would have moved back to my hometown. That also probably would have been a great path but I think the current one is the best one :)

  49. Nade says...

    Hello to all, I think that majority of cross road choice made for us at an age below seven. The rest of life is to thrive or deal with the consequences. Both ways are practically the same just the latter a bit of more painful

  50. Genevieve Martin says...

    Reading this and thinking of all the moments it was then odd to read “It can be easy to gaze down the road not taken and imagine it might have been smoother.” because all the ones I was thinking were “thank goodness I did X because then I ended up here!” And loads of these comments are the same… I’m glad because regret really is the worst emotion.

  51. I only know my current partner because mutual friends of ours suggested we email each other while he was travelling overseas as we had similar senses of humour. It took 14 years of friendship, 1 failed* marriage (mine), several failed relationships (his) and living in different cities before we finally realised we were the right match for each other…or we’d run out of other options! Whatever, I now have my best friend as my boyfriend, and vice versa. It’s been an amazing ride. We are right where we need to be right now, but what if I hadn’t acted on our friend’s suggestion but allowed my natural shyness to keep me from contacting him?

    *I don’t like the word failed on either accounts but it seems to be the word that we get pasted with. The relationships/marriage weren’t failures; they were right for a time and then they weren’t. Plus, how could anything my son was born of be considered a failure?

  52. Annalie says...

    Hi, it feels as if I have already missed my bus. It could be by a hair’s width but my bus is gone! I made too many stupid mistakes and have wondered many times what if I had gone to university to study art. Maybe I would have been a lecturer and painted weekends with wine between the paint tubes. Although I do paint now but I’m self-taught.

    Thank you for your interesting post.

    • Jessica says...

      Annalie! There’s another, different bus coming! You can study art in so many ways! The university bus might be gone (although maybe not — some of the people I’ve found most impressive are those who go back to school later in life!), but what about all the other art buses? What about all the other buses full of paint tubes and wine and friends and family and the pathway to joy that you didn’t even know existed! You can do this! I believe in you (and I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that!)!

    • Robin says...

      Well, maybe this is your bus. Why is it too late to do what you want? There is no such thing as “too many” mistakes; instead think of those “mistakes” as learning moments that inform where you are now. Get on the bus!!!!

  53. Anu says...

    My husband grew up in Belarus and I grew up in India, and we met in the US, so I have to imagine thatin the majority of parallel worlds we never did meet. Many many decisions could have led to the outcome being different, but the sliding door moment I always think of was my decision to attend a Russian-style trivia game that my husband was organizing in grad school. It was a rainy, miserable spring day in upstate New York and I had to force myself out of the door. And if I hadn’t I would never have met my wonderful husband, who was organizing the game. So many things followed from that decision – my decision to move to the East Coast, rather than the West Coast or back to India. He found a job first so I constrained my job search – and it led me straight to my career and a company I’ve been with for more than six years now. And I certainly wouldn’t have my darling two year old son, currently reading picture books with my husband. It all gives me goosebumps sometimes.

  54. Katrina KP says...

    In 2015, a culmination of events led me to move back home to Fort Wayne, IN, from Baltimore, MD, where I had been living since 2010: 1. I was laid off, 2. I went through a horrific breakup, and 3. my dear Grammie passed away. I absolutely despised the idea of moving back to such a “boring” city, but two months after moving back, my mom introduced me to the man who is now my husband. He had worked for her for six years, and she had been “holding onto us” for each other until the time was right. Four and a half years later, I’m in love with this city and that man, and I’m pretty happy with my side of the sliding door.

  55. KV says...

    When I was 18, I was visiting my family in the UK and really hit it off with my cousins friend. He was off work while I was there and showed me around, we hung out a lot. I definitely had a huge crush.
    Then I got on the plane, flew home, and the next day drunkenly made out with my now husband at the bar!
    UK guy is my what if… my sliding door moment.

  56. joana says...

    i don’t know if i’m the only one with this opinion… but i don’t really think the sliding doors thoughts help. i feel like we will never know what could have happened, so why fill our heads and/or hearts with possibilities that aren’t possibilities? thinking about how our lives would have turned out when the life we have is this one, now, packed with all the choices we made along the way?
    i think maybe you need to be in a good place for this kind of exercise, which is not my case. for me, it’s just painful and useless.

    • Cheryl says...

      I agree.
      It makes me think of the Robert Frost poem about two roads diverged in a yellow wood…he was sorry he could not travel both, and had to pick, right? We can’t travel parallel universes so why try?

      It’s more that at a fork in the road, we made a choice. Those were the big decisions. And yet all day long we make micro choices that impact our world, too. The life we have is the life we’ve crafted in tiny ways, day by day. And micro choices lead us to the forks, anyway. You can’t say you would have never met this person or done that because you could have in a different way! Life gives us infinities possiblities and there’s freedom in that. No regrets.

    • Anonygirl says...

      This. The other side of my sliding door is me in a long-term career, living in a city I love, with someone to love (probably a pet). Instead, I live at home in a city I hate all because I had to go get a fancy education at a fancy school in a small town.

    • Vivian says...

      No, you’re not the only one. I agree that this line of thinking can lead to some fairly useless thought trails, as if All of Life hinges on going to a particular event or making a particular choice. I think we need to be really careful with that kind of thinking, because it can tie us into knots when making decisions. Or, conversely, we can spiral into regret and “if only…” regarding what we did or didn’t do in the past.
      bottom line: my advice to everyone reading these comments: enjoy the fun of it, but be very careful about adopting the “sliding doors” idea as some kind of thought pattern that sticks around for you — or really watch how and when you use it. (Take charge of your own brain and don’t let an internet thread do a number on you.)

    • Megan says...

      I think the benefit is more “what kind of person would I have been?” Sometimes the “worse” choice leads to better character. I don’t believe there is any ultimate right or wrong path. I know plenty of successful people who are deeply miserable.

    • Josie says...

      No, not just you.

      But try to remember that in the film Gwyneth Paltrow ends up with a man who repeatedly quotes Monty Python, possibly the most annoying trait ever.

    • joana says...

      i’m glad i’m not alone :) and actually i had to stop reading the comments because i just started getting anxious (and i am not, usually, an anxious person). i agree that it’s dangerous to get into this mindset, you may find yourself overthinking even the smallest of decisions… but again, i guess it depends on where you are in your life, how you feel.

  57. Tabby says...

    I am struggling with this right now. My partner and I are on the precipice of four very big decisions:
    1. Buying a house
    2. WHERE to buy a house
    3. If/when to start fertility treatments (same-sex couple)
    4. Which sperm-donor to use
    It feels like the decisions we make on each of these will change our lives in so many ways. Do we stay in the city we love, although we can only afford a tiny apartment? Do we move to a town neither of us are crazy about but where we can buy a nice family house? Do we do IVF, IUI, adoption? Each sperm donor selection means a totally different little person in the end, what will their life be, what will ours? SO MANY DECISIONS. We are sat at the bottom of the fig tree trying to decide which shadow life to reach for.

    I do love this way of thinking but am also mildly paralyzed by the enormity of it. I feel like I may have been putting off getting on a bus for a while and now fifty buses have turned up and I have to pick just one to board. How do you make these decisions?

    • Veronica says...

      One step at a time is the best answer I have for you, and follow your heart… Not really helpfull but that’s how I did it.
      I used a donor to have a lovely little boy, and I’m currently looking to buy a house.
      The sperm donor/fertility treatment was a long process and I focused on each step not to be overwelmed. And for the choice of the donor : I made a selection and picked one randomly when it was time. It was my way of having some ‘surprise/let go’ of a very controled procesus.
      Good luck with all these choices, I’m sure you’ll find the right house for your family and everything will follow.

  58. Angela says...

    I met my now husband at a nightclub and at the end of the night as he was giving me his number an ex who I had been in contact with suddenly rang my phone. I rejected his call to take the number of my now husband and basically that was my contact with my ex ended. He then went on to win the lottery! I sometimes wonder how different my life would have been if I’d answered his call and been his wife and a lottery winner instead…

    • freya says...

      haha no way!

  59. L says...

    I was a diver all thru high school and college. Before my senior year of college, I had decided to pass up a summer internship in favor of spending the summer training. On July 4 of that summer, I had my sliding doors moment: I broke my leg at practice. I spent the summer at my parents house in a cast, and part of my senior year on crutches, then a cane, and then in a painful recovery. I was never able to dive again.

    A group of friends that year had signed up to do a cross country bike trip after graduation from New Haven to Seattle. I was weary of signing up because I had never done any road biking and on the trip they averaged 80 miles a day for 9 weeks (gulp). Plus I wasn’t sure my leg could handle it. I don’t remember how they convinced me, but I signed up and raised the money needed (it was a fundraiser for habitat for humanity).

    32 of us set out on the first day and after only 34 exhausting miles, we stopped in our first town and set up for the night in a high school gym. I noticed a guy across the gym listening to his headphones and discman (!), and went over to talk to him. We spent the next 9 weeks biking for hours next to each other, across beautiful national parks like Yellowstone and the Tetons, and thru the long flat roads in South Dakota, falling in love along the way. That was 16 years ago. We are married with 4 children and have had lots of different adventures together as a family.

    If my foot had landed just a few inches to the right, I never would have fallen off of the diving board…..

  60. I have one from my boyfriend:
    Back in university times, this guy was looking for a new place because his old room in town was small and smelly. One day he visited my flatmate to borrow some CDs (those shiny round things with music on them, remember?). Jokingly, the three of us talked about the free room in our apartment and how he could move in because my flatmate already knew him and trusted him to be a good flatmate.
    At first he thought no way, because the house was on a hill outside of town, he had problems with his knee and wanted to live in the city and my gosh that hill was steep.
    Fast forward, he biked up that hill every darn day, his knee problems have completely dissolved, he went on a 6-week bike trip two years later, (re)discovered his love for photography and now works as a professional photographer. He still bikes everywhere.
    Also, we would never have started dating if he hadn’t moved in because he was so shy and I rarely went out to meet new people.

  61. Rachel says...

    My dad was engaged to someone else when he met my mom at a wedding and “knew she was the person he’d marry” (as the story goes.) He called off his engagement, married my mom and they had me. The first fiancé went on to have a daughter my age. It has always weirded me out to think that I could have been half myself and half her and she the same.

  62. Linda says...

    I was married for years to a guy who eventually came out and cruelly dumped me. I just existed for 7 years and moved to another city to be nearer to my children. I joined a dating club and my first date was with a Frenchman. As I was packing up to move to Paris with him I found a list I had written and put away of all of the characteristics I wanted in my next man and it was him. Anyway, here I am in Paris enjoying life although the expat life isn’t always an easy one. Anyway, you can’t make this stuff up!

  63. Sarah says...

    My first child happened because a snowstorm shut down LaGuardia…

    Before I had my son, I was a flight attendant and I worked out of NYC but lived outside of DC, so my commute to work involved flying on a shuttle. And one time, I was trying to get to NYC during a snowstorm, faced with delays delays delays, got as far as being on a plane circling LaGuardia when they shut down the airport and sent us back to DC. I called off of my trip and went home to my husband. 9 months later, we had a baby. If they hadn’t shut down the airport, I would have worked that trip and life would have continued on as it had been. We had big plans for that year that got kind of squashed bc of our impending human so there are definitely times I wonder what life would look like now if I had made it to NYC that snowy February day.

  64. Caroline, thank you for this mesmerizing topic. I live in L.A. and every time I visit NYC I get a strong sense of familiarity. Like I’m going to bump into my parallel self around the next corner. It’s a deep connection that I find hard to explain. There’s another version of me completely at home in this otherwise faraway place. I hope everyone has a place like this in their life. It’s a special feeling. Just shy of magic.

  65. Ker says...

    I met my husband on a public bus in India while traveling alone. I’m Canadian, he’s Indian. After over a decade together in India I still sometimes wake up from a bad dream where I married my perfectly lovely college boyfriend in Toronto. He was (and is) a great guy and we were perfect on paper but I never felt truly understood by him. In the dream, I have a pit-of-the-stomach sureness that I am living a life that is all wrong for me. Then I wake up and look over at my husband and feel a wave of relief that everything is so right.

    • agnes says...

      This is soo sweet!

  66. I think about this a lot because I met a guy on the London tube on New Years Eve. He was visiting from Australia and I’m from London, England. Fast forward 9 years and we are married and living in Melbourne, Australia together. My life would be SO wildly different if I had hopped on another carriage, or had not been running late that night, and had got on any other tube on that platform that comes every 3 MINUTES! It blows my mind.

    • George says...

      A literal sliding doors moment!

  67. Anna says...

    Newlyweds and just out of college my husband and I both had wide open opportunities. We contemplated Hawaii, New York and Southern California. 15 years later and we are still on the California coasts. We love it, but I often wonder what life would have looked like had we chosen a difference geographical location to start.

  68. Erin says...

    At a party during my first week of college, I spent the evening talking with various guys who were all pretty dull. When I was thoroughly bored and ready to leave, I went hunting for my roommate, who had bonded with another girl from our dorm over their shared love of The Cure. I had never heard of this much-cooler-than-me band, but over the next few months, during which my roommate hung out with her new friend a lot, I discovered that I had *many* other things in common with Cure-loving Jennie.

    Neither of us is in touch with my old roommate anymore, but 24 years later Jennie and I are still very close friends. Thank goodness I had such a cool roomie. 😀

  69. Lindsay says...

    I always wonder what would have happened if I had stayed in Venice Italy as an aupair (age 20) rather than leaving after 2 or so weeks. I had meant to stay for the whole year. I had started my art major at that point back home and the Italian parents were really intrigued and started talking about forming a class for many children to take art classes from me….who would I have met, would I be fluent in Italian, the trips they were planning to take to the Alps etc. would have been such an experience. I still did have an experience, just not as long, I went to Genoa to stay with a friend for 4 months instead. I guess I see it as we ARE where we are meant to be. I was meant to have the experience over on the riviera side! ha. I now paint scenes of it and people love them :) “theres no where you can be, that isn’t where youre meant to be, its easy, all you need is love…..”

  70. Lauren S. says...

    I was doing a summer internship in Boston between the first and second year of my master’s program. My boss gave me a random Wednesday off work so that I could spend the day with my parents who were visiting from Seattle. In hindsight, so many moments from that day could have altered what is now my life. The delayed ferry after visiting Salem for the day, a long wait for food at lunch, getting lost in downtown Boston, and accidentally jumping on a different side of the “T” (Boston’s subway) than my parents. Each of those moments, though annoying and slightly frustrating at the time, were critically important for the one moment that would alter my life forever. When I stepped on the T’s Green Line I struck up a conversation with the cute boy standing next to me, who then cracked extremely nerdy jokes and I was totally and completely smitten. At one point on the five-minute subway ride my dad, who likes to make his presence known, yelled my name from across the T and the boy asked who it was… “Errr ,umm…Well, it’s my dad,” I said. He then immediately asked, “Umm. How old are you?” I was 22 at the time. Now, almost 10 years later, we are married and have moved twice, once to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and we now live in the Bay Area. We even made it through a full year of a cross-country, long-distance relationship when I moved back to Seattle to finish my degree. Had I not had the guts to start a conversation that day my life and his would be very different. We often look at the other and ask, “How the hell did we meet on the T?” It’s so evident to both of us how truly crazy and miraculous it was that in a split second our lives changed forever.

  71. I took a wrong turn taking my kids to school today. I forgot my oldest needed to be dropped off first and took a left onto the road going to my youngest’s school. That put me in the turning lane instead of the going straight lane. There was almost an accident right in front of me (where I should have been) and after I turned back around to go the right way, I wondered if I hadn’t randomly made the mistake of going left and being in a different lane, that we might have been the ones to almost…or actually get in that accident. That was my sliding doors moment today. I also wondered if my mistake also possibly helped to prevent the accident from actually happening to the other people who almost got hit.

  72. Sara says...

    I watch all of these romantic comedies where the best friends inevitably figure out that they are in love with each other (after singing Surrey with the Fringe on top in front of Ira, naturally). I always wonder what would have happened if I would have told my college best friend that I was in love with him. After he graduated and we moved to different cities, he set me up with one of his friends (whom I eventually married), but I always wonder what if the life his wife is leading is actually the life I should have had.

  73. Malissa says...

    I loved this. I’m a (40 yr old) counselor who works with high schoolers on college applications and it’s crazy insane how much pressure they feel to make life decisions when they have ZERO life experience. When I look back on all of my major life “milestones”, I think the bus sentiment rings so true. The BUS (A bus, Which bus?) is always coming! The things that have not worked out have led to the beautiful things and people that have, and I’ve always felt deeply grateful that life has a way about it, doesn’t it?

  74. Hilary says...

    I grew up in a stuffy east coast town full of lawyers and bankers. I thought I’d be a lawyer, too. I wore J. Crew everything and played field hockey and tennis. In my sophomore year of high school, a totally random guy called and asked if I wanted to go to his prom – and I had NO idea who he was (other than my friend vouching for him). I said yes because I felt like going to prom.

    Fast forward six months: I am wildly, insanely in love with this hippie redhead who couldn’t give two shits about our lawyer-filled town. I realized all the status, money-focused stuff is total bullshit. We camp and hike and hang out in rural Maine and have a mad, The Notebook-like love affair. He was a year ahead of me in school and de-camped to college on the west coast. I thought I would die.

    Fast forward almost three years, when we are still somehow together. I leave my fancy east coast school and transfer to a Colorado school, one that he applied to but didn’t get into. I am still desperately in love with him. He is tired of long distance and needs space. And now, here I am, in the wild Rocky Mountains without him. We circle each other for years but are never in the same state for more than a few days again.

    Almost twenty years later, I am happily married to the second great love of my life, with kids and an amazing career and a life full of Colorado-y adventures that my east coast-y, high school self literally couldn’t have fathomed. I miss that ghost life, but am so grateful for this one, too. Life is full of so many doors.

    • Anna says...

      so cute! What do you do in your career?

    • Wow. That’s lovely.

    • Mel says...

      Love this. Also turned it into a movie in my head…or a book.

    • AG says...

      Beautiful.

    • Angela says...

      What Mel said! Wild meets The Notebook- write this book/movie/play!

    • Hilary says...

      I’ve worked in nonprofits my whole career, education and youth development-focused. A career I didn’t even know existed as a kid!

  75. Midge says...

    I was dropping off my friend after a lunch break, and my former coworker’s ex-boyfriend recognized me in the split second before she slammed the passenger door closed. I rolled down the window and we chatted for a minute.

    We’ve been together for 23 years.

  76. Alice says...

    I wonder if Jo might agree with this one too… I’m an identical twin and sometimes we comment on how our own life’s are “sliding doors” for each other. Years ago we both got married in the same year (I’m now divorced- whoops) but our dad had to do a “Father of the Bride” speech for each of us. My sister’s wedding was after mine and as I sat next to her, as Dad started his speech, I poked her in the side and laughing, I said “Dad is giving the same speech he gave at my wedding..” It started off exactly the same about how we were born… but then he transitioned in the speech differently… on an occasion they took us out as babies- for me he said “And that started her love of being out” and for my sister he said “and that started her love of restaurants”… the speeches from that point went their own way. When I called him out on it later he said… “well you both had exactly the same start” and it was true…

    It’s funny how taking that trip, choosing that career, deciding to have a baby, getting a divorce, getting the A, being good at a sport, making that friend…. all shape your life.

    • I’m an identical twin and can so relate to this (well not getting married or divorced). My sister went back to school and attended CIA; I’ve stayed in the same job for 18 years (as of right now!) and do food on the side.

      I need to rewatch that movie.

    • Kat says...

      “I’m an identical twin and sometimes we comment on how our own life’s are “sliding doors” for each other” — what a cool way to think about it! Pretty neat to have such a visual representation of how else your life could have gone.

  77. Re: “The bus is always coming…” what a profound & happy statement! Yes! I first met my (would-be) husband virtually–we were editors for a lit journal and had fallen in love with the same short story. We were advocating to the editor to publish it which he finally did Then, my (would-be) husband and I met face-to-face in a writing workshop–classroom setting sort of thing–about a month later. I remembered him from our mutual advocacy for the story and I almost talked to him but he was chatting up another girl so nervously passed him by instead. ANOTHER month later, strangely enough, I was sitting on my stoop late at night and he came walking down the sidewalk. He was a little tipsy and had a broken flip-flop. We sat together on my steps and almost instantly fell in love. Our first date was the following Thursday, and the rest is history. I feel as if, looking back, there was no possible way for me to avoid us becoming us. That bus was going to keep showing up until I got on.

    • boon says...

      Love this! So heartwarming

    • Robin says...

      Ryan, your story gave me chills. What a beautiful and comforting reminder of life.

  78. jill says...

    almost daily i think about this. it fascinates me. yet, i have MANY ‘not how i ever saw my life going’ moments/choices and i wouldn’t redo any of it. proof we really don’t have much control and the universe has a plan way above our wildest dreams! life is good.

  79. Emily says...

    I would probably be suburban wife in New Jersey (no offense to those of you out there, it’s just not me!). So while I’m happy to be in a city, it’s not exactly like one door closed and behind door no. 2 is an amazing option like so many others seem to have experienced.

  80. What a fascinating premise, Caroline! I seriously do not know how you all consistently churn out such intriguing content!

    My sliding glass door moment was Hurricane Katrina. I was taking a self-subsidized sabbatical (at the age of 27) and was at Folk Art School in the mountains of North Caroline when it hit New Orleans.

    I ended up traveling back to Houston to help set up a tutoring program for the evacuees, and that’s where I met my future husband. He was a fellow volunteer. I’ve been on a different path since then!

  81. Lucy says...

    I almost moved across the country for law school, to live with my best friend and admittedly try for a second go with my ex. Instead, I decided to stay put, went to law school in my hometown, and met my future husband on the first day of school. Over 15 years later, I still feel like I made the best decision of my life, but it could have easily gone the other way.

  82. A says...

    Am I the only one who gets anxiety thinking about this? I already have trouble making decisions! Dwelling on what ifs is the last thing I need!

    • natalie says...

      omg amen to this!! i hate this kind of thinking so much!!

    • Anna says...

      wowow yes!! love the writing and the topic is obviously fascinating but I felt my anxiety levels spoke big time

    • Shannon says...

      No, I’m right there with you.

    • Definitely not the only one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think many of these moments are only thought of as awesome when awesome things happen. No one says, oh, I missed the train and missed the chance to meet my future husband, or I decided to stay home and ended up breaking my arm (that actually happened to me).

    • P says...

      yes. I hate thinking like that. As an immigrant-who moved at the age of 18, alone, to a new country, and now has kind of two lives within those countries (and as the old saying goes: an immigrant no longer has a country) I would be riddled with those thoughts for the rest of my life since the decisions were both geographically 6,000 miles apart, with vastly different cultures. The anxiety prevented me from reading the comments as well! lol interesting how different we human kind are.

    • A says...

      I’m so glad to know others feel this way! I love my life, but I am constantly trying to stop comparing myself to others. This is just comparing my real self to my fictional self, who is a different person than me. Perhaps if I felt more successful, I would feel differently, but who can say? I’ve pretty much been this way since I was a kid! Thank you for validating me, you all rule.

  83. I used to get caught up in thinking how if I didn’t miscarry my first pregnancy, then I wouldn’t have my daughter. But then I thought, even more simply, if I didn’t conceive her at the exact moment I did (let’s say I had sex 5 minutes earlier), then I wouldn’t have my daughter. And neither of us would be here if all of the generations before changed one little thing related to their hanky panky. Eeeek. I mean, it’s a little weird to think of the sexual escapades of your ancestors…but it’s also pretty amazing too.

    • Mel says...

      YES! I think about this all the time. Have you seen the movie ‘About Time’ – it plays into this if you conceived at a different time it would be a different baby. My husband and I were doing ‘natural family planning’ and trying not to have a baby (ha) when we conceived our now 3 year old daughter. I was leaving for Florida for a week to go to Harry Potter world with my sister, I knew I was fertile that day and we were going to wine country in a few months so definitely not trying but my husband looked soooo cute that night and I was leaving for a week and I figured what are the chances. I ended up throwing up all over wine country a few months later and now we have our daughter and I think Thank God he looked so cute that night and I couldn’t resist throwing him down on the bed.

    • Cece says...

      This is insightful and special; thanks Kellyn!

  84. Tara says...

    I think about this often. Yesterday I attended my boyfriend’s son’s 8th birthday party. As I made Twizzlers into TNT for his Minecraft party. I took a picture of him with his mom. I thought while snapping that picture, life is fucking crazy and we are adaptable in ways we could have never imagined. I couldn’t have dreamed this life, I spent most of my life setting goals and achieving them.

    2 years ago I was married and pregnant. We met on the streets of San Francisco. We grew up together. We moved cross country. I loved him deeply. I had a miscarriage, he had an affair and never returned. I was beyond broken. I thought this was an end.

    I did the work. Therapy. Support groups. Trips to visit my girlfriends abroad. Re-decorated my house. I was DEEP into my eat pray love journey. Honestly the yoga retreat I couldn’t afford it’s almost too cliche to write about. My divorce inspiration was Stella Got Her Groove Back.

    I decided to start dating. I was completely clueless. I became who I was supposed to be. I started writing poetry again. I signed up for ballet with my best friend. Rose on Releve, LOL. My poems were featured in a local art show. I felt alive.

    On my third bumble date he told me he had six-year-old. UGH, no kids I thought. This was not a part of my plan. I would have swiped left on him. A year later he told me he could feel me walk into the bar. I never realized how much work I was doing in my marriage until I started dating. I had prioritized him, and not myself.

    2 years later I’m here cutting paper to put around Twizzlers to make a party snack for 8-year-olds. I could have never imagined this life. My heart has expanded a million times more. I am more empathetic, kind and loving because of the pain I went through. I will never ask anyone if they are planning to have kids/ get married/etc. You never know what is really going on, be kind.

    Last year we were flying back to NC from San Francisco. I was very cranky after a Hertz rental car nightmare and bay bridge traffic. .His name was misspelled on his ticket and we were going to miss our flight. He looks at me and says why don’t you go through TSA, get a drink and I’ll meet you at the gate. It’s going to be fine.

    I felt like a thousand weights were taken off my shoulders. If I hadn’t lost a baby with a man that was not supposed to be forever with I wouldn’t be cruising through TSA en route to wine. This new love was the love meant for me.

    I see that sister life passing by and I smile. A few times this year, life long friends or family members tell me that I seem more like me than I ever have before, it’s the biggest compliment I’ve received.

    • Alice says...

      Reading this I feel the same way… I’m divorced too and for a while there it took me a while to let go of the life I thought I was going to have and be open to the life I got to have… turns out it’s the same life just different chapters. I actually cried once on an aeroplane when I realised it was the start of something new and better for me. Dating was the same for me… I realised on dates I could be so many different versions of myself, sporty, smart, foodie, travel, etc and the it wasn’t until one day when I was out running, that it hit me that “I was back”… life now is great with someone who gets me. I think that it changes you for the better too. Thanks for sharing your insight.

    • Kattia says...

      I love this! thanks for sharing!

    • Megan says...

      Tara, I love this so much.

    • M says...

      Thank you for sharing this. I’m a few chapters behind you & this is so encouraging & hope giving to me.

    • kath says...

      this is wonderful and wise. thanks for sharing.

    • joana says...

      thank you so much for sharing. your story made me smile and think there is hope after a sad break-up, a painful break-up. that i’m going through the motions and trying to think about me and who i want to be. that by focusing on me good things will come, unexpected things. that life is not over, nor love. thank you.

    • Abigail says...

      Wait, is this Tara of the most awesome “mowing the grass with GUSTO” comment from a post a few months back? You are the best. You nailed it again with this beautiful comment. I love your writing and wish you so much happiness.

    • Mel says...

      Thank you for sharing this story Tara, it made my heart catch in my chest. Trying not to cry, but i’m just so happy for you. There’s a Gungor song (they’re like emo-Christian if that’s a thing) about beautiful things being made out of dirt. Your life, and story, and you, sound like a really, really beautiful thing.

    • Tara says...

      ABIGAIL- It’s me!! let’s be friends @tpilsley on IG. love y’all xoxox

  85. Lizzie says...

    That last paragraph…I can’t even to describe how much it resonates.

    Once again, thank you COJ for getting it so right.

  86. Bren says...

    My sliding doors moment was saying yes to a date that I did NOT want to go on! His name was Ben and he was a good friend, but he was about to move to Hawaii, and I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why he was asking me on a date before he was about to move across the ocean? I reluctantly went on the date (my roommates even made me change clothes because they said I wasn’t even trying to be cute, HAHA!) and as a result, he invited me to his going away party a week later. At the going away party I sat across from a sweet couple (Ben’s older sister and her boyfriend). My life went on as normal, but 2 years later, Ben’s sister reached out to me out of the blue to set me up with a friend of hers on a blind date (her boyfriend remembered me and said I was his type! hahaha)…..well my blind date became my now husband! If you can even follow this story, the point is, SAY YES TO THE DATE! Even if he/she is lame or not your type, etc….what if they have a sister/roommate/friend who IS your type?! My advice to everyone I meet now is to say yes to the date. Because what if you marry their roommate instead?! :)

  87. C says...

    I met my husband at a party that I was berated into going to, by a friend I did not know that well. I was on a crash diet and didn’t want to go bc drinking would be too many calories.

    I’m glad I let myself get bullied and got drunk at a strangers house bc that stranger is the kindest man I’ve ever met.

  88. Jessica says...

    My husband and I had a painful start to parenthood. Our first two attempts ended in miscarriage. My third pregnancy ended tragically in its seventh month after my son was diagnosed with a fatal chromosomal disorder. My genetic counsellor told us that it was caused by a random mutation at the moment of conception. Three months after that loss, I became pregnant again, and we successfully welcomed a baby girl into our life. I often think about how different our life would be had that chance mutation not happened. I pine for that beautiful baby boy we had so desperately wanted and a life free of the pain and loss of losing him. But I also know that this series of events was completely necessary to lead to the birth of my baby girl, who I can no longer imagine a life without. Had any of those losses not occurred, we never would have had her. So while I wistfully imagine a life with my son, I am grateful every day that he was responsible for the gift of my daughter.

    • Julia says...

      I’m holding both your son and your daughter in my heart tonight. They’re lucky to have a great mom; I’m sorry you didn’t get to meet your son.

    • Lindsay says...

      Jessica – this is beautiful. As a mother to a son lost late in pregnancy to Trisomy 18, followed by a daughter who brings so much joy, I think about this frequently. You phrased it so well – the wistfulness and fullness all in one.

    • Jessica says...

      Lindsay, lots of love and support to you as well. Not many understand both the joy and loss you can feel when holding your living child in the quiet of night when no one else is around. Its a dichotomy you carry for the rest of your life.

    • L says...

      Jessica, yours is the first of the comments that has made me cry. We lost our second pregnancy in the second trimester due to a chromosomal issue. I thought my world had ended and still mourn the loss of our daughter and wonder what she would be like. (All too much like me, I fear!)

      “Not many understand both the joy and loss you can feel when holding your living child in the quiet of night when no one else is around. Its a dichotomy you carry for the rest of your life.”

      We were subsequently lucky to have a successful pregnancy, which gave us our second son. The quoted above sums this up more perfectly than I ever thought possible. Thank you.

  89. Mehnaz Thawer says...

    Lots of relationships here!
    I met my husband on a dating app. To think I messaged him mere minutes before the match was to expire because I was bored. How bizarre.

  90. Amy says...

    I think about this all the time! My parents met in an ELEVATOR, of all places, and I always think that if one of them had left the house 10 seconds earlier or later I might not have existed!

    • P says...

      My parents met in an elevator too! Perhaps there are more “elevator babies” out there lol!

  91. Jessica says...

    I often think about how my parents decision to move when I was a child had such a huge impact on the course of my life. I met my best friend in high school. Through her, I also met my husband. When I was a child, my family lived across from the primary school that my best friend happened to attend. However, before starting school they moved us to a new house in another school district. So, we could have met at that young age, but didn’t. It occurs to me, that if we never moved, and I attended that first school, my history and relationship with my best friend would have been completely different. Knowing the way we were as children, we may not have even been friends, and as such, I never would have met my husband. I often think about this and whether my parents realize (whether they like it or not!) how integral that decision to move likely was on two of the most important relationships of my adult life.

  92. Emily says...

    I was just finished theatre school, I answered a random ad about a film school movie. The director happened to be from my hometown and cast me. My husband was in class with the director, and she had someone cancel on her and randomly asked my husband to help out last minute. We met. Fell in love. And then I was tested a few months later and it turned out I was an exact match for a kidney transplant he needed. He had been looking for months. If that’s isn’t a few sliding door moments, I don’t know what is!

    • Ari says...

      Omg. What a story!!

    • joana says...

      WOW. that is amazing.

  93. Jill says...

    I recently heard about, and loved the idea of, an “alternate reality” party – in which guests show up as an intentionally different version of themselves. In costume for the job they didn’t take, the way they’d dress if they moved to that town, the embodiment of their childhood dream, whatever. What a fun way to learn a little more about your friends and live out a different existence for a night!

    • Amy says...

      How fun!! I’d love to go to one of these!

    • Julie says...

      What an amazing idea!!

  94. Laura says...

    Great topic Caroline. My sliding door moment isn’t a nice story, but it taught me the importance of a split second decision.

    I was in my early twenties on a night out with friends. At the end of the night we all waited in the usual place in the city to get a taxi home. My friend and I agreed to get one together as we lived close to each other. We waited and waited for our taxi in the freezing cold. One pulled up and I asked if it was the taxi booked under my name going to the town we lived in. It wasn’t. The next thing a black car pulled up with 3 guys in it who came from the same town as us, although we didn’t know them. They’d heard where we were travelling to and were kind enough to offer us a lift home. They seemed nice guys (and the driver was very handsome and flashed me a big friendly smile) so my friend went to get in the car, but I stopped her. Something jolted me and I knew not only should I not get in that car but I wasn’t letting her get in it either, much to the frustration of my friend. Two girls next to us decided to take them up on their offer.

    Ten minutes later our taxi finally arrived. Half way home we saw the black car on its roof on the motorway. The driver and front passenger both died and the other passengers were trapped in the car injured. The driver had been drunk.

    As horrible as it was for that to happen to them, I was proud that I’d made that call, despite being young, cold and a little drunk on the night, so I could have easily accepted that lift.

    • michelle says...

      You made the right call and lived to tell about it.

  95. alison says...

    After a horrific trifecta of getting dumped out of the blue, having that ex’s father die days later, and then about a month later my beloved (elderly) therapist passed away — ready to wipe the slate clean, I saw a job opening at my hometown art museum for the “perfect job.” I was too bereft to apply at first, but did it anyhow. After being told I didn’t get the job (4th blow!) I moved on. But then! I got a call – to come in for an interview! The first candidate needed a visa that the museum couldn’t sponsor, so I was up next! When in town for the interview, I was swiping around on bumble to see if it was “worth it” to move back home and I swiped right on a handsome and charming music professor. Two years later, we’re engaged (hooray!), and I’m still working that job (for better or worse!) Hey thanks shitty non-profit budgets for not being able to pay for that visa!

  96. EB says...

    nearly ten years ago, I got engaged. My then-fiance took a job in California, and I followed along. My career imploded, I got depressed, and he called off the wedding. Through a somewhat random introduction, I came into contact with a gentleman who took a chance and hired me into a new-to-me industry. It clicked. I loved my job then, and I love it now. I eventually left my wishy-washy fiance, took a transfer with the company across the country to my “home” city, and have had continued success. If I’d never moved for my ex’s promotion, never been laid off and out of work, I wouldn’t have the career I have now.

    Fast forward to three years ago; I met my now partner, who DID get married in the same month that I had planned to wed my ex. He is divorced with two children. Through our early courtship I was afraid of his “baggage,” but reminded myself that it just as easily could have been me.
    The hardest time in my life brought me a rewarding career, but it also made space for empathy and grace that allowed me to accept this man, who has brought me into his family, shares a home with me, and taught me how to be a parent in the most roundabout and surprising way.

    When it seemed that my life was unraveling I was angry at so many things; I felt so lost, but the outcome has been beyond my wildest expectation.

  97. Anna says...

    For me it was a leopard print dress. :)

    I was in Miami with a friend for a weekend trip. It was our third of three nights and I was tired of the sophisticated (safe) black dresses I’d brought to wear. She offered me a wild leopard print dress I never would have worn in a million years, except it was our last night in Miami and I was feeling bold.

    About 10 minutes after we left our hotel, my future husband spotted me from a cab and stopped the cab to talk to me.

    8 years, one move to LA, a marriage and two kids later, here we are.

    Sliding door: I wore my plain black dress, probably didn’t catch the eye of my hubs and WHO KNOWS WHERE I WOULD BE.

    • Anna says...

      Omg! My name is also Anna and my sliding door moment is a red dress. I bought the red dress as a single valentines gift to myself and then wore it to my roommates birthday party where the red dress caught the eye of my now husband! Self love for the win!

    • P says...

      My daughter’s name is Anna* and I approve both these messages with a slight mist in my eyes. What adorable personalities you two have!

      *She is only 7 and I’m at work, procrastinating :)

    • Anna says...

      hahahah hi Anna and Anna’s mom! may we all continue to make bold fashion choices in the name of love.

  98. riye says...

    I dropped out of graduate school (gave up a scholarship) and left my boyfriend of several years to go home and help nurse my dad. My grad school classmates told me I’d regret my decision but I never looked back. To this day, I know it was the right decision. I got to spend a few more months with dad before he died. I never thought I’d be content living in my home town but I am. My new boyfriend is one of the kindest people I know. Plus I went back to making art–something that I totally wasn’t expecting. So I guess you never know. One door closes, another opens.

    • Meg says...

      You sound like a wonderful and caring person, Riye! Wishing you all the best!

    • riye says...

      That’s so sweet! Thank you, Meg. :-) Moving back sure did feel like a mistake in some ways but sometimes you just have to prep for the worst and hope for the best, right?

  99. Judy says...

    Love this. Always thinking about the path not taken!

  100. Emily says...

    I love this: “the bus is always coming.” There are so many little moments where small choices lead to big life changes. And not every door opens (or bus comes)– you don’t get accepted to every college or offered every job. Not everyone you crush on crushes back. I find that the doors that do open are often the right ones. I’m currently knocking on several doors (waiting for a bus?), simultaneously applying to a new job in my home state and to grad school. I’m experiencing a strange mix of excitement, apprehension, and nervousness in waiting to see what doors will open to me. Such a strange and ultimately, magical part of life.

  101. V says...

    When I am folding my husband’s socks, I always think about how I could have, so easily, ended up folding someone else’s socks! And it always makes my heart stop and makes me catch my breath.

    I thought my last boyfriend was the one I was going to marry and I was preparing mentally for what our life together would look like. It would have been so, incredibly different! So quiet, so lonely, so far from family, so small. My life is so loud and happy and full of babies, our extended families love each other, and it is so painful to think it so easily could have gone the other way! I know it was God’s grace and direction in my life! I am beyond grateful!

  102. Alex says...

    I made a bad decision and chose to major in history even though I didn’t love it didn’t know what I was going to do with it. BUT I met my husband in my very first history class. He wasn’t a history major, but was auditing. We’ve been married ten years. Best bad decision ever.

  103. Capucine says...

    Run Lola Run! A much more gripping take on this plotline, it’s in German – I think it came first? Anyway, completely unforgettable – the hair-raising way she screams in the casino while the roulette wheel turns has come back to me after moments of my life where I am aware I am calling it down by force of will alone, like when my son’s lung shut down and his life and death was in my hands and no clear path forward. A few days after we were home I remembered how it felt standing in that hospital hallway, and Lola’s fate-shattering scream popped up as the exact way to articulate it.

    • EW says...

      Yes, I love this movie! “Lola Rennt” in German

  104. Elena says...

    I moved to Switzerland (because I could!) in my twenties, stayed for two years, and ended up dating an American who had family in Miami. Two years later, I eventually ended up moving to Miami (from Portland, OR) to be with him, and when I arrived he broke up with me on the spot. (This was pre-cell phone, but still a low move) His business partner took me in, introduced me to small handful of nice people, and through that chain of people (about four people in) I met the man to whom I am married now. 15 years later, three cats in the yard, plus our wildly wonderful daughter; we are blessed.
    Sometimes, life happens because we are brave, even just a little. Travel far, stay where you know not a soul, talk to a stranger… these can be the little things that make life wonderful.

  105. AMK says...

    This quote really hits my heart in a deep way. “My heart is at ease…knowing what was meant for me will never miss me. And that what misses me was never meant for me.” Al Shafi

    • Bonnie says...

      Thank you for sharing that, AMK. I have no regrets and this perfectly explains to me why. This will be a keeper for me, too.

    • joana says...

      thank you for this. i’ll strive to believe it <3

  106. Cate says...

    This is a totally off-topic question, but: what happened to the Cup of Jo newsletter? I loved it so much! Hopefully it makes a return soon xx

    • Maureen says...

      Hi Cate! Our newsletter is currently on pause while we rethink our strategy, but we hope to bring it back soon!

  107. carolina says...

    I believe that a random decision saved my life. I was a University student in the 90s and went to the student health center for some reason. They were doing a study on cervical cancer and HPV (this was before it was a known thing) and were looking for volunteers. A woman asked me if I would participate and I agreed although I’m not sure why. It turned out I had HPV positive cervical dysplasia which would have turned into cancer. They treated me and then I needed followups and that was it. It wasn’t until I went to med school that I realized the implications of this one decision. Even now it shakes me to think what would have happened if I’d said no or had been too busy or had a class to get to. I am forever grateful.

    • AMK says...

      Wow. Powerful. You listened to your instinct. You were in alignment with yourself and listened to that super quiet voice. So powerful.

  108. kiki says...

    When I was in college a high school sweet heart called me up out of the blue. He was building up to being vulnerable and finally expressing his true feelings for me, but at the last second he bailed and masked it with a confession of pining for a mutual friend. He asked “what would it take for a girl like that to move back to Kansas” (the subtext being, to be with me). I played along, pretending like the mutual friend wasn’t a stand-in for me. And I answered honestly that it would never happen. That small town on the prairie (the epitome of freedom for so many) suffocated me. But, of course, I occasionally think: “What if he didn’t loose his nerve. What if I didn’t play dumb. What would’ve happened?” I’m a million times happier with my real life than I ever could be with the ghost ship, but it is compelling to think about.

    • Lauren says...

      This one really gets me :)

  109. AJ says...

    Love this! Oh so many… one biggie was Christmas Day almost a decade ago. Sister and I were taking photos of each other doing star jumps in the snow off a step. I’d done my jump but then we decided the pic was a little blurry, so we’d do it again. That time, I jumped awkwardly, remember severe pain then seeing stars… ended up spending rest of Christmas in hospital partially paralysed with a severely ruptured disc. Cue the start of an up and down series of events over the following years keeping the injury in check with physio and exercise and whatnot. Then, a major relapse nearly three years ago that resulted in potentially permanent life-changing loss of nerve function (a rare complication of some injured discs). I briefly lost everything and ended up with spinal surgery, with no guarantee that the nerve damage would be reversed. It was a very dark time. My surgery was very successful thankfully but there was a long road of rehab and strength building – I had to do the work. But, something began to happen afterwards. I discovered strength and determination beyond my wildest imagination. I rebuilt my fitness to levels far superior to what they’d ever been before, defied doctors predictions and am now a fully fledged fitness wonder woman (haha, sort of), started a path of deep spiritual healing to finally deal with childhood trauma, quit my stressful, crazy hours job to pursue more balance and new goals, and – joy of joys – found the clarity and courage to finally face up to my true sexuality and come out! Ha! To think all this… might never have happened had we not decided to take one more star jump photo on Christmas Day all those years ago.

    • Michelle says...

      What a life affirming post!

    • Em says...

      This gave me goosebumps, AJ! Congratulations on finding that strength and determination in shitty circumstances.

    • mado says...

      You are amazing. Thank you so much for sharing this story. I’m currently in both talk therapy and physical therapy to regain muscle and retrain my back after a prolonged illness and life stress over the past few years. Sometimes it feels like I’ll never feel “well” again. This gives me so much hope for the future.

    • AJ says...

      Thanks guys :)

      Mado… I hear you! I know that feeling so, so well. There really is hope, even though it won’t always feel like it. What I’ve learnt is, healing is up and down and unpredictable and there isn’t really an end point. But that’s ok – your body might need a bit more TLC and attention forevermore but there is so much reward that comes from that. Patience and faith are so challenging but they really are our friend. Everybody’s path is their own but small steps helped me overcome the overwhelm. Playing the long game. Learning to trust my body again has been a long gradual process and ongoing still. You find little ways to be super gentle and rest when you need it, but push on boldly with the work that’s going to get you strong. But when you lose and regain your health, eventually, you can connect so fiercely with the joy of just being alive and in your body! I wouldn’t change a thing if it meant not having learned the things I’ve learned. You are doing everything right. Hang in there and know you’re never alone x

  110. Allie says...

    I’ll have to think about this because while of course there’s a lot in my life that would’ve been very different had previous events been different, I also feel like I’ve worked so deliberately on the things that matter most to me that I can’t quite picture the sliding-door realities. I’ve worked hard to build my career, hard to make friends, hard to find a boyfriend (we met online, and though there are plenty of what-ifs–what if I hadn’t popped up in his feed, what if I’d forgotten to check my dms, etc.–I also feel I just got what I was anticipating). It all just feels like such hard work! It might be good to reflect on some of the magic.

  111. Whitney says...

    In a moment, when Facebook was brand new to my college campus and I was desperate to meet some cute guys, I friend requested a guy because I “liked his sideburns”. He said I had a “nice smile”. This led to some messaging back and forth for weeks before we finally agreed to meet up. Fourteen years together, nine years of marriage, and three kids. What if I had never “added” him on Facebook? Our campus was small, but would we have crossed paths? Would I have noticed his “nice sideburns” in the freshmen cafeteria at some point? Honestly, I don’t wonder about the alternate because then I would not have met the love of my life.

  112. Shannon Murphy says...

    When I was 18 I applied for a job across the country. I didn’t get it and gave up until my sister pulled some strings and got me another job at the same organization. I ended up meeting my partner there who was visiting from Australia. I always think, if my sister had not known anyone to get me in, if I had just given up and not pursued it further. 5 years on I know live in Australia with this guy and none of that would have happened!

  113. Lindsay says...

    I was early to meet a date and I had some time to kill. I went into not-my-usual-grocery-store and I bought a bottle of wine and I met my husband in the liquor aisle. Now we have the perfect baby girl. Thank you sliding door!

    • So rad, this gave me goosebumps !

  114. Jules says...

    So interesting to think about!

    I remember laying out all the college brochures on my parents’ family room floor & my sister-in-law saying “Each of these pieces of paper will lead you to so many different people”.

    Thankfully, I chose a small university in Oregon. I signed up for a program where we got to move into the dorms early & volunteer around Portland before school started. Standing in line to move in, my dad starts chatting with the dad in front of him. Turns out his daughter’s room is next to mine. We became fast friends. Two days later we were sitting at the opening speech of orientation & a really cute guy walks in. He hangs out in the entrance (right near us) & I keep my eye on him. He walks over & asks my new friend who I am. Turns out, they grew up in the same neighborhood & went to high school together in another state. The moment I met him I felt I could trust him with my life. It was as if I’d always known him. That guy & I started dating the next week & have been together ever since. We’ve been together for 16 years, married for 10, & just had our fourth baby 2.5 weeks ago.

    I often think of my sister-in-law’s comment & wonder how I would’ve met my husband if we hadn’t gone to the same school. I believe we were destined to find each other.

  115. aran says...

    if i hadnt moved to cambridge, i wouldnt have broken up with my ex, and i wouldnt have attempted suicide.
    on the other hand, it is thanks to that that i got a degree in something i love and im getting a masters in something i also love

    • Anon says...

      Aran, I am so glad you are here. Good luck on the Masters!

  116. Monica says...

    I agree everyone has some kind of moment like this! Mine: I was seconds away from never meeting my future husband! I met him at a bar, which is funny because I was never a bar-meeting type person at all!! But I was out with my girlfriend at an Irish pub in Atlanta, and her friends were super late coming to meet us. Finally, we gave up and walked towards the door to go somewhere else. I have a distinct memory of seeing future-hubs with his group of guy friends (although no massive lightning bolt, haha). My friend and I left the pub and started walking… then bumped into her friends on the sidewalk. They wanted to go BACK into the pub, and it was then that our two groups of guys and gals ended up meeting and chatting!! I always thought, “What if we hadn’t gone back in?” 22 years and two lovely kiddos later, I’m sure it was all meant to happen. :)

  117. Kim says...

    Who else is watching Modern Love? I’m on episode three and loving it.

    • AMK says...

      Me! Soooo good!

    • Jill says...

      MEEEEEE!:))

    • Tara says...

      I just finished SOOO GOOD. Also, Anne Hathaway dam.

  118. laura says...

    My moment was when I wrote an ordinary high school English essay, but chose to focus it on a personal aspect of my life at the time. My English teacher liked my essay, so she suggested me to a scholarship program where only teachers could submit students. I then went through the application process and got it! It paid for my college education. I had no idea the essay would lead to that path, and what that would mean. And of course – I still am beyond grateful to that English teacher! Teachers are magic.

  119. Kim says...

    As Cheryl Strayed so wisely put it-

    “I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.”

    There are so many paths we choose, even not knowing we are choosing.

    • H says...

      i just love this quote. it comforts and inspires all at once. thanks for reminding me of it!

    • Rosie says...

      God, I love this! Thank you for sharing it.

    • Caroline L says...

      Oh yay! I was hoping someone would bring her up. Such wise words!

    • Rebecca says...

      Wow, my feelings articulated so well! Thanks for sharing.

    • Megn says...

      This quote is one of my ultimate touchstones. It’s so sad and comforting.

  120. Diana says...

    I find this stuff really terrifying to think about for some reason. I like my life and it could be so different so easily. Almost all big decisions can be traced back to like, the weather (did you go to that open house or was it too wet), junk mail (hey this college looks good!), or the decision to kiss someone at a party. The one that sticks out the most is the time I was walking by my coworkers desk at an old job, I saw she had a job posting up. I said “what’s that” and she showed me- well, actually the job was a much better fit for me, not her, and I asked if she would mind if I applied. I did, got the job, was there for 5 years. After I accepted the offer I sent her a $50 gift card to REI (she’s outdoorsy) cause I just felt so damn weird about what had happened.

  121. Sam says...

    Reminds me of this bit from The Bell Jar:

    “I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

    • Lia says...

      Came here to offer this! When I read the Bell Jar a million years ago this did not sink in – I was a teenager, why would it? – but then I heard it again on Master on None and it stopped me in my tracks.

    • Heidi says...

      I really have to read The Bell Jar again!! :)

  122. Lauren E. says...

    For a brief period as I was graduating from college, my parents moved away from my hometown (they moved back when I was about 23). Because of that move, I couldn’t go back to my hometown in the 2 months post-college when I didn’t have a job. I nearly lost my mind living with my parents (because, hello, 21 year old), and got the first job in NYC I could find. I’ve lived here for almost 15 years now, and it’s shaped my life completely. I always wonder what would’ve happened if I’d had to move back to my hometown after college, and if I would’ve ever left.

  123. Moriah says...

    I stopped by my church one night to drop off some tablecloths I had borrowed seven months earlier (yikes, I know) when I met my now husband. We had gone to church together for years and never spoken, and for whatever reason I vented to him all about my dating struggles even though he was a stranger. I got a text from him later that night saying to keep my head up and that any guy would be lucky to date me. He asked me out 3 months later and the rest is history. Why did it take me seven months to return the tablecloths? Why was he there on that particular Tuesday? I don’t know, but I’m grateful.

  124. Jen says...

    I know the exact moment! My friend and I were sitting on the hood of my car watching a beautiful sunset. We talked about going to dinner. I 100% believe that if we had gone to dinner, we would have started a romantic relationship (we were headed in that direction).
    But…we didn’t go to dinner. We drove back to our college campus, and I ended up at dinner with someone else that evening.
    I am completely happy with the path my life has taken, but I do sometimes wonder, “what if?”

  125. Milou says...

    If I had not been in Jordan in October 1999, I would not have met my partner’s sister and I would not be living in NYC and in a relationship (18 years!!) with my favorite guy, ever.

  126. Jess says...

    “The bus is always coming.” I’m going to write this on an index card and tape it to my wall!!

    Oh Caroline, you took this piece to such a moving, encouraging place. Thank you for writing this.

  127. Suzanne says...

    CAROLINE!! You can NOT leave us hanging!!! We want to hear about the bet that lead to your boyfriend!!

    • Lara says...

      Here for this, too, whenever you’d like to share. :)

  128. Amanda says...

    My sliding door moment is one that I have to think about often as it helps me get over my past relationship trauma. I was in a terrible emotionally abusive relationship in high school/college, but was so young and “in love” that I stuck with it for 5 years. After college, I followed him from my hometown down South to Chicago where the relationship finally dissolved. Chicago is where I met my now husband. Who is the complete opposite of that terrible man I dated. Who I feel loved by and who considers my feelings and lets me be emotional. So whenever I start to spiral into the pit of despair–getting mad at past me for being so stupid and naive–I stop and look around at where I landed because of him. And I’m thankful that young heartbreak pushed me toward a path where I could be happy.

    • T says...

      I always think about my past failed relationships as necessary for my growth and realization that my husbant is the best person in the world for me.

  129. kh says...

    As someone in my early 20’s who feels like the world is my scary but awesome oyster, I have been thinking about this a lot, but in reverse. I recently took a job in rural New England that sounds perfect and so intimidating–I’m from Georgia and have never been in a real winter before, never lived completely alone. There are so many “what ifs” and they are coming at me from so many directions. But WHAT IF people didn’t take jobs or risks for fear of the what ifs? What if I didn’t move away from family and friends? What if I did something that was more inside my comfort zone? Taking risks is so scary, and I don’t want to make the wrong choices. But it seems like there’s more regret involved with NOT taking those risks.

    • Milou says...

      Good for you for taking the risk! I completely agree!

      And as someone who grew up in rural CT, the best advice I can give about winter is to tell people you’re from Georgia and ask everyone around you for tips. People love to talk about the weather and everyone has advice about driving, staying warm, the best boots, who to plow your driveway, what roads/routes to avoid, etc. Good luck in your new job!

    • Emily says...

      KH, I totally understand where you’re coming from. I’m in my mid-twenties and made a huge decision a few years ago to move to NYC from Northern California where I’m from. The choice I made hasn’t always been easy but it has been beyond rewarding in the personal growth it’s brought me. In terms of winters, here are my pieces of wisdom:

      * at certain temperatures, you’ll feel cold no matter what you wear
      * that being said, always carry gloves (I recommend finding cashmere lined leather gloves on sale, I bought some on black friday from landsend!), a scarf, and a warm hat.
      * get a really warm down parka, mine is from north face, and feel no shame in wearing it all throughout winter! I also recommend a wool coat for slightly warmer days. long underwear, wool socks, and wool sweaters are also so important. it will be expensive but worth it to acquire these things.

      Regarding the fear of making a wrong choice: my mom told me “you make the best decision you can with the information you have at the time.” I take this to mean that the choice you’re making is right for you right now. That doesn’t mean it’s your only choice. You can always take another turn and switch things up again. Hooray for having bravery in these scary, exciting moments!

    • Clare says...

      Wow, that’s so exciting! I’m from Florida and have moved to progressively colder places since. I am so happy with my choices, but here are some things I wish I had known:
      -Seasonal Affective Disorder (aka Seasonal Depression) is real and valid.
      -But Vitamin D and a portable sun lamp help!
      -Winter gets easier every year.
      -Fall is beautiful.
      -L.L. Bean flannel sheets are worth it.
      -If you can’t spend on both fall and winter boots, get some Bean Boots for fall and then add shearling insoles for the really cold days.
      -Get an ice scraper for your car.
      -All wool everything.
      -Soup.
      -You will always miss Publix.

    • Bb says...

      I grew up in MA and remember every year putting on our ll bean flannel sheets for the winter season!

  130. Jen says...

    I missed out on a journalism job at just the right moment. Once I’d missed out, I decided to join two of my best friends canoeing the Yukon river up to Alaska. Somehow heading away pushed me to have an out of the blue ‘this just isn’t as good as it should be, is it?’ conversation with my partner of nearly six years, and over a long weekend of talking it through we called it quits. I headed away unencumbered by job or partner.

    By the end of the trip, I’d fallen in love with one of my best friends, and enrolled in a Master of Environment specialising in sustainable food systems. I’m still with the best friend (and he’s still my best friend!), we’ve left the city and built a house (quite literally, we built it with our own hands) and farm together, and I’m the Director of a sustainable food systems organisation. I’m so glad I missed out on that job!

    I had a very sliding doors moment seeing the old partner about 5 years later. I was on a bus, guessing at the lives of people on the sidewalk and daydreaming – I wonder what her day was like, I wonder what that person is going home to, I wonder what it’s like to be married to that person – and after a moment of not recognising him, realised that I’d wondered what it would be like to be married to my ex. I can guess – it would have been fine, I’d have lived a more linear life and probably stayed in the city, and I would always have felt not quite loved enough. But it was such a jolt. And I’m so glad to be where I am, with the partner I’m with, instead!

    I occasionally envy the linear life version of myself – what if I’d just become a public servant like many of my friends rather than joining start-ups and not-for-profits that change the world but don’t offer much security, stayed trying to buy a house in the city, stayed having brunch with people, stayed just having a kid at a certain age because everyone does… I think I feel this the most as we grapple with whether or not to have children – is there a different version of my life where this decision would have been easier?

    • Bb says...

      You should read the new book the River by Peter heller. It’s about two college friends and a canoe trip down a river in Canada. Absolutely stunning.

  131. Marian says...

    Great question, I’ve thought about this moment and have a very clear defining time when I (literally) raised my hand. I was in the Peace Corps and there was a political coup and we were evacuated from the country, helicoptored out and flown to headquarters in DC.

    About 24 hours after landing in DC, they asked who wanted to continue with our service in a neighboring country that was looking for volunteers with our expertise and language skills. I raised my hand with half dozen others in the conference room. So I went to that second country, ended up being a volunteer for 3 more years, got on a more specific career path, and met my husband who moved back to the US with me where we’ve built a family and made a home. Where would I be if I hadn’t raised my hand in that conference room?

  132. Tis says...

    My favourite stretches back several generations!
    My great-grandfather lived in Scotland, and bought a boat ticket to start a new life. But when he arrived at the dock on the day of his departure, he was told the boat going to Australia had been quarantined. According to family lore, he said, “But I was supposed to leave today.” The man shrugged, gestured over his shoulder, and said, “Well, that boat is going to Canada.”
    !!!!

    • Emily says...

      Wow, chills! I love this.

  133. Rae says...

    My aunt calls these lives you never lived your ‘shadow lives.’

  134. Lucy says...

    Like so many moments, the moment that changed my life was at a party (a New Years Eve party, the last day of 2014). A friend of my mom’s friend was there, and mentioned in passing working for a small tech company I had heard of. “I know Puppet!” I exclaimed, and babbled about how much I admired the work they did. She put in a recommendation for me to intern there that summer, and 5 years later I still thank her for it every time I see her at the office! What if I hadn’t run into her at that party? What if one of us had gone home early, or what if she just didn’t mention where she worked? Such a chance encounter led to such a happy career!

    • Libby says...

      I just had to share: something about your comment made me wonder – what is this great company Puppet? So I looked it up and found myself on the Careers page and noticed that one of the openings sounded like it might be a great fit for a dear friend who is actively looking for a position in London. I thought “maybe this is her bus!!” So I sent her the opening with a long winded explanation of finding it buried in this article… :)

      Anyway, the busses abound it seems!

  135. Liz says...

    Caroline, I adore your writing so deeply. Thank you for sharing your gifts with us.

    • Andrea says...

      I second this!!

      Caroline, I love your writing – it captures and speaks to all of us.

  136. Mikayla says...

    In college, an acquaintance invited me to a holiday party that I initially turned down. The day of the party I changed my mind suddenly and showed up to the last 20 minutes of the event. I felt like such an idiot! But then the friend who invited me ran up to me, tugging a gal with fantastically long hair behind her, and said, “I’m so glad you came! You need to meet someone. She’s looking for a roommate!” One month later, I moved into a house of 5(!) girls that have become some of my best friends in my life. I remember nothing else about that night, but it was the best 20-minute party I ever attended.

  137. Jessie says...

    Yes! Mine was if I never went to college in NJ, I never would have done a semester abroad in London, then never made a really good friend who lived in the flat across the courtyard who became my drinking buddy, then never would have met up with her in NYC to find a Pub to reminisce about drinking in London, in which I met a guy who because my boyfriend, then husband with I have three kids 17 years later. Phew.

  138. Francesca says...

    This makes me think of a mesmerising quote from Cheryl Strayed in her book ‘Tiny Beautiful Things’ which I think of often:
    “I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.”

    • Kristen says...

      I think about the ghost ship all the time too…such a beautiful and reassuring idea.

  139. Daniela says...

    Oh, I’ve thought about this a lot! Mostly with one big decision – I wanted to be a doctor and got accepted into a postbac program to finish my premed requirements. I turned it down because I didn’t want to commute or be long distance with my boyfriend. I instead stayed in the same city and took a new job there some years later. That job led me to meet a guy who made me realize how unhappy I was in my current relationship – I broke up with my then boyfriend and started dating the new guy who is now my husband. And yes, I am completely, ridiculously happy in this relationship.

    So sure, I could be in my fourth year of med school right now. But then maybe I wouldn’t have met my husband since I wouldn’t have taken that job. Or maybe, since he was an emt when we met, I would’ve met him still since that post bac program happened to be where he worked and he could have been dropping off a patient when I was doing med student stuff. Who knows!? Maybe in the end, no matter what end, it all works out.

    • Emily says...

      Daniela, we live parallel lives, but in mine, I didn’t choose the guy who, strangely, wanted to be an EMT and made me realize how unhappy I was in my relationship. Unfortunately (and fortunately), doing that was my one big decision.
      4 years later, I’m still single, still in love with that same guy, and applying to law schools at 30 in pursuit of a lifelong dream. I never would have done this if it weren’t for that choice (and don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful to be able to do this), but sometimes I wish I had chosen him instead; I’m hoping that my newest choice leads me to why I didn’t and couldn’t choose him. Weird to think that your story could be my very-real sliding door – I wish you both many more years of ridiculous happiness :)

    • Daniela says...

      Emily, wow! We really could be living each others sliding glass moment, especially since we are basically the same age (I’ll be 30 next year). Funny, I also used to dream of being a lawyer when I was younger.

      Thank you, and best of luck to you! :)

  140. Kelsey says...

    Just last week I got in a weird rut/funk letting myself get too far down a “what if” path re: a friend who wanted to be more. I was in a serious relationship at the time, with the man I ended up marrying, but I still wonder what that relationship could have looked like. We now have four children among us, not between us, and our lives have clearly gone in different directions. It can be a melancholy thought!

  141. rose says...

    This train of thought just makes me even more committed to doing what makes me happiest without fear of making the wrong move. I think it might even be counter productive in every way possible not to. Figuring out the happiest decisions is my actual modus operandi. For me, I think it is the best possible way to feel good about life.

    • Anon says...

      “Figuring out the happiest decisions is my actual modus operandi”.
      I love ths statement, Rose. It reminds me of Joseph Campbell. “Follow your bliss!”

  142. Meg says...

    oh I LOVE thinking about this. I don’t believe that “everything happens for a reason.” I never have, I think it’s nonsense. I believe that life is random chaos and we’re all just making the best choices we can, and my life could have been wildly different in so many ways that may have been better and worse and mostly just… different. I find it kind of empowering to think about my ‘ghost ships’ because it reminds me that my future will be full of adventures and surprises based on chance and decisions that I make. Beauty in the chaos.

  143. I moved to the opposite side of the country 2 and a half years ago. I was so lonely a few weeks in, and signed up for a dating app. My FIRST DATE turned out to be with the woman I’m marrying next year. If I’d done anything different that night (like call a friend or eat chocolate, instead), I’m certain I never would have met her.

    • michelle says...

      Congratulations!

  144. T says...

    So many sliding door moments! We’re expecting our third child and this is my fifth pregnancy. Just the other day my partner and i wandered how many children we would have if i hadn’t terminated my first pregnancy (it was eight years before our first daughter). And realized we would have different children in our lives, never meeting our two wonderful daughters…it scared me a little. But i guess every parent who lost a pregnancy think about the person they didn’t get to meet. I never regretted anything and am so happy with this version of life.

    • S says...

      Thank you for sharing this. I too terminated a pregnancy with my now husband – what a ‘what if’ it is!
      I do not regret my decision, I was young, focused on my PhD and I did not feel ready to be a mum. Little did I know that’s something you are never ready for, but it just didn’t feel right, even if it was with the right person.

      I always wander ‘what if I had that baby?’ what would be of us? where would we be living and what would we be doing? I am sure we would not have the high paid jobs and our house, as we would both have struggled to complete studies! and then I realize that we most likely would not have had our son, and my heart just fills with sadness because my 2 babies (the one I will always long to meet and my real baby) could never co-exist. and I live in this [parallel] universe, admiring every 7 year old and wondering how would my *lost* son look like (I’m convinced it was a boy), would he resemble his (now) brother? would he he left handed too? would he like fish and chips as much as we do?

      Again, I do not regret my decision, even if it was the hardest decision I have ever made and its a pain i will live with forever.

  145. E says...

    After college, I moved overseas and ended up meeting my husband. That’s a huge sliding door for me – what if I had never moved? We’ve been married for seven years now and I love him very much. Of course, as is often the case with many relationships, you have seasons or rough moments in which you wonder if you made the right choice. It can be easy to entertain thoughts of “what if I ended up with so-and-so?” What I’ve learned from this, and as I’ve watched the lives of my friends wander and wind down different paths, is that the grass is greener where you water it. In my relationship, in my career, in my self-care…all these areas are only as good as I make them. Thinking about alternative lives or outcomes has taught me the value or focusing on the life I do have.

  146. jane says...

    I remember that blonde crop in that movie – it looked SO good on her.
    I just got my hair done this morning (first time Brazilian blowout and a pro trim on my long bob – I know I’m behind the times lol) and it looks so great that I wonder why I waited over a decade to get it done professionally. Oh yeah, because it saves me $200 bucks a month.

    In any case I feel like an entirely different person and experiencing people respond so differently in a positive way to me throughout my day so far is very, very satisfying. It can only get better.

  147. Seja says...

    Ohmygosh such a great post. Thank you for this. I can’t wait to read the comments section for this one.

    I have one moment in my life that sticks out in a kind of mystical way. I was 23 years old and driving to my first big job interview out of college. It was a three hour drive across somewhat desolate farm fields. I had traveled two hours, and about a mile before I came to what was the first gas station in a while, the temperature gauge in the car shot to red. I made it to the gas station, called my dad to come help with the car, and rescheduled the interview for the following week. Once I got back home, we had the car looked at and there was nothing wrong with it. The mechanic, my dad, none of us could understand it, but he said everything was fine with the car and no charge for the work. I proceeded to go to the interview the following week, got the job, and had the most miserable two years of my life. I stuck with it as long as I could, but finally gave it the heave-ho after two years and moved onto better things.

    But sometimes I wonder, if I had listened to that moment of physically being interrupted from getting to the interview, what course would my life have taken? I’ll never know, but I know it took 15 years in the corporate world before I finally did what I wanted to do when I was 23 – become a metalsmith. That’s what I now do full-time and I am so grateful. I guess we all have our own journey and learn our lessons in our own time.

    • Bonnie says...

      And, Seja, what pops out to me is how utterly WONDERFUL that you were able to call your dad to come help with the car. Such a gift to treasure.

  148. Beth says...

    I would be a tired, harassed doctor, married to the wrong guy, barely keeping my head above water. In my much happier reality, I am a busy, joyful student nurse who is very grateful not to be living my alternate life!

  149. P says...

    Loved this. Actually just recently, a guy I was involved with in college (but never technically dated, it never progressed even though it felt like it should) came out to me after a long personal struggle. It resolved so many question marks in my head and finally stopped the “What if? Why not?” questions. The answer was simply: it was never going to! One bus I could never catch and now I don’t have to wonder why it didn’t stop for me back then.

    • michelle says...

      Wow, now you know!