What Could Have Been


Maricruz Ramirez, sociology major, senior

In a dream I had last night, I found myself walking down a hallway with numerous doors — reminiscent of the scene in “Beetlejuice” when the main characters search for their afterlife case worker.

As I walked down the hallway in my dream and went door by door, I realized that each room led to an alternate dimension revolving around pivotal moments of my life. Once I awoke from this fantasy, the images remained vivid in my mind and I found myself without qualms about why I dreamt this sequence in the first place. It was no mystery because lately, I had been falling asleep to scenarios and imaginings revolving around what I consider to be a truly tragic sentence: what could have been.

For the past decade, I have found myself falling into patterns of self-destruction regarding my “love life” because of the one who got away. There was never a true conclusion for us and definitely no sense of closure or acknowledgment of the feelings we had once shared. Whenever the opportunity to fall for a new person came up, my heart found itself crawling back into the question of “what could have been.”

Every time a new man walked into my life, I destroyed the potential for a true relationship by envisioning the “what could have been” scenarios and dream sequences revolving around the boy who was never truly mine. Because of this, nobody could compare. Nobody was ever going to be good enough. Nobody could be him.

It took a decade for confirmation that I had not been romanticizing things in my head and that the boy who was never mine perceived me as his own girl who got away. It took a decade, but in a note, he included these haunting words: “Our lives have gone very different paths but we can always share thoughts of our teenage years and what could have been.”

And there it was: what could have been. In an unnecessary form of self-torture, I have found myself falling asleep to what I envision to be the life we could have had together. It could have been beautiful, really. It could have been sheer euphoria and pure bliss. Sadly, it will never be more than an image made up in my mind.

In the dream I had last night, I found myself walking down a hallway with numerous doors that led to alternate dimensions. I assume that some of those doorways led to places with happy endings and fulfilled love. For now, I have to accept that I have neither … and may always yearn for both.