Sliding Doors

In my experience so far pregnancy leads to a lot of self reflection. Having a baby is such a massive life change that I actually think it’s great you get a whole 9 months to process it. Lots of important decisions to make, identity changes to come to grips with and big concepts to think about. Not to mention the physical changes. It’s a lot to wrap your brain around.

Which is why I’ve been thinking a lot about 90’s rom coms. Well one specifically today.

Have you ever seen the movie Sliding Doors? If not, you should. It’s a pretty intelligent british romantic comedy starring Gwyneth Paltrow at her most surprisingly likeable. She plays a waitress living in London with a cheating loser boyfriend. Early on the plot splits into two tracks: on follows her life is she catches the train one day, the other if she misses it. So in one track she catches the cheater in bed with someone else, dumps him, moves on, in the other he gets away with it and they stay together. Many repercussions and a kicky blond haircut ensue.

This I what I was thinking about this morning as I watched my handsome husband sleep. He hates when I do that but pregnancy makes you wake up at all hours for absolutely no reason. It’s very unfair. Anyways, I’m thinking about how painfully much I love my husband and my thoughts start to wander to some other life I might have had, the one where the pivotal moment turned another way and I didn’t start a blog, quit my job and take my chances on the high seas of the world.

Just livin’ my life in 2008.

I’m not sure exactly where my “Sliding Doors” moment was, the exact second I decided to do all this. It had been in the back of my head for a long time, before I even took that job, before I even returned home from working in London. But what if I had just decided not too? That it was too crazy, too hard, too impractical?

What then?

  • I wouldn’t have my blog, the one constant in my life since 2009.
  • I almost definitely wouldn’t have the chance to call myself a professional writer. Blogging has been my in route into a pretty hard to crack profession. I don’t always feel secure in my job but I’ve made it a lot further than I would have otherwise. I always dreamed of being a published author, but it’s hard to see how that might have happened if I hadn’t just sat down and started pouring my heart out online.
  • Obviously I wouldn’t have had the chance to travel to 5 continents, 40+ countries and 47 states and counting. I would never have jumped off a bridge in Ecuador, skinny dipped with bioluminescent plankton in Vietnam, or snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef. I probably still would have taken neat vacations now and then but there is no way I could have acquired the wealth of stories and experiences that I’ve been fortunate enough to have.
  • I wouldn’t have the many friends I’ve made through travel and the travel blogging community. That’s a sad thought.
  • I probably wouldn’t have fallen in love with food. Back before I traveled I was a lean cuisine or boiled pasta kind of girl. I didn’t cook, I wasn’t a foodie by any stretch. Travel is really what made me so interested in international cuisines and cooking. This has become a big passion and joy in my life.
  • I definitely wouldn’t have met Mike. We met at a travel blogger convention back in 2010. He was about to go teach English in China for a year, I was headed out to backpack around Asia and Australia. I really can’t see any other possible way our paths would have crossed if I had just stayed put in DC.
  • No Mike means no baby, no apartment in Seattle, no Leo (sob) and a magnitude of other things it’s hard to even calculate. Honestly it makes me too sad to even try.

That other life is a total blank to me. I don’t know what it would look like. Travel and writing have become such a huge part of my identity. Maybe I would have stayed in DC? Married someone else? I would have lived some totally different life, it might not have been worse but it’s hard to believe it could ever be better than what I have.

I kept the blond hair though

Why am I writing about this? It’s not to pay myself on the back, honestly. That other life probably would have been fine too with different passions and joys. It makes me sad to think about it now, but I wouldn’t even miss this life because I wouldn’t know anything about it.

However, I am fortunate enough to have the life I have and it’s because at some forgotten moment in the past, I took a leap of faith. I took a huge freaking risk: to quit my job, to find some alternative way to pay my student loans, to put my heart out on the internet for anyone to pick over.

Your own personal leap of faith may have nothing to do with travel (however, you are reading a travel blog so you may be inclined that way to start). But I hope you take it because… who knows where it may lead?

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12 thoughts on “Sliding Doors”

  1. PS and we know Gwyneth’s sliding door moment…The time we collectively started dislikng her .. ” surprisingly likeable ” lol!

  2. I’ve had these discussions free will vs butterfly effect. I ran stuff in my head. that led to where I am. I realised they would’ve happened no matter what. Because although we “think” we have free will…and we probably do..In little what we order in a restaurant…The big things will happen anyways. Then someone raised the point of the butterfly effect. Ordering sushi instead of ramen could lead to big things too…such as gweneth missing the bus!

    Anyways..its a good discussion nonetheless!

  3. Ah I loved that movie! I sometimes wonder some of these things too. If I hadn’t started a travel blog, I never would’ve met Andy and moved to Germany to be with him. I have no idea what my job situation would be at this point because the insurance job I was in was turning into a nightmare shortly after I met Andy, and I already knew I couldn’t stay in that company or field. I never felt like Atlanta was the long term city for me so who knows how/where I would’ve maybe met a different guy. But then I think the circumstances that brought me and Andy together were so wacky, that if I can be so cheesy, I think we were really meant to meet. The other side of all of this is that I often think, what if I had made XYZ decision earlier/at all, and things might possibly be better now? (This is often something blog-related, not romance or location related.) But for the most part, my life is chugging along pretty well.

    Good luck with your last few months of pregnancy! I hope that baby lets you get a little more sleep!

  4. Great reflections- also hi, long time reader but I don’t comment much. I have reflected a lot like this at various points: moving cross country, grad school, moving to a new city, traveling, etc. My husband and I are currently working toward deciding if and when to start a family. Your post reminded me of the “ghost ship” post on dear sugar and I think you would enjoy reading it.

    1. Oh man, I love Dear Sugar. That was a great one to re-read. Definitely sums up a lot of my feelings about having kids too. It’s still super scary!

  5. It really is crazy when you think back to those specific moments or decisions, that at the time seemed so small, but if you hadn’t made them X, Y, and Z would never have happened. It’s really amazing and inspiring!

  6. I used to think about how different my life would be if I’d never up and moved to Spain. Like you: no blog, no love for food, no husband and no big plans. I’ve stopped wondering so much about what led me to make that decision (and what led me to study abroad in Spain in the first place?) and am enjoying living life perpetually in two places!

  7. I love this – it’s incredible how much you can tailspin from thinking these things out! I think we all have a few “sliding doors” moments, and I can’t help thinking how fascinating it’d be to know where the other path would have led…. even though I wouldn’t give this path up for anything!

  8. I get headspins if I think too much about how my life could have been different! If I hadn’t said yes to moving to Italy, for sure, but even in so many little ways, and the moments that led up to me having the choice to move abroad… I do think often there’s more than one path to a particular point, but you’re so right that sometimes it really feels like everything has hinged on a single moment that didn’t even feel important at the time 🙂

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