I honestly wish my path had never crossed with those people all those years ago. I wish I had been content being a nobody. I wish I had been satisfied with my tiny friendship group, comprising people more like me. I wish I had just gone with the flow and kept myself to myself.
I wish I had been happy to be the nerd spending his time in the library, focussing on his studies alone. I wish I didn’t become preoccupied trying to carve out a place for myself. I wish I wasn’t so desperate to make friends that I sacrificed all common sense.
I wish I had opted to take a sensible set of subjects. I wish I had never taken that course, never to wander amongst those people. I wish I had remained a stranger, minding my own business. I wish I had never been aware of those people. I wish I had been oblivious to their faces and their words.
Of course I wish many things. I wish I didn’t have the face of a dork. I wish I wasn’t a walking skeleton. I wish I wasn’t the geek kid. I wish I had been mature. I wish I had had self-confidence. I wish I had had people with whom to discuss my feelings. I wish that those who should have noticed had noticed I was unwell.
I wish that I was not shy of what I was. I wish I had invited friends to my house. I wish I could have admitted what kind of family I had. I wish I had not cared what people thought of me. I wish I had embraced those reaching out to me, and shunned those pushing me away.
I wish I had never seen those eyes. I wish I had listened to the friend who tried to tell me the truth. I wish I had not been sensitive. I wish I had not listened to my heart. I wish I didn’t have depression. I wish I didn’t take everything so personally. I wish I had stood up for myself.
I wish I never wrote that book. I wish I never took up writing. I wish I had been content penning whimsical comedies alone. I wish I had been able to speak. I wish I had had sensible conversations with sensible friends. I wish I wasn’t so alone. I wish I wasn’t so awkward.
But, of course, I wish many things. I wish I didn’t have a face that made me a laughing stock. I wish I didn’t have a frame that made me stand out like a sore thumb. I wish I had had a voice with which to express myself. I wish I had been able to stand up and say, “You’re so completely wrong about me.” I wish I had been able to say, “Just stop!”
Instead, moments defined me forever. Moments at school, college, university. Moments in Hull, Cambridge, London, Stirling. Moments in a dormitory, a corridor, a canteen. Moments amongst friends, strangers, enemies. Moments that have haunted me my entire life, causing me to shudder whenever I look in the mirror. Moments that have never left me.
But why wish? All of those moments carried me here. I was carried towards faith, finding refuge in the One. Then I was carried towards my beloved. Then we were carried towards these children. And we were all carried on towards blessings unimagined. I wish many things, but my wishes are immaterial.
These paths crossed by design. These moments were predefined. And the signs we have all now witnessed: could any of us have planned any of this had we tried? None of that was an accident. Signs on the horizons and within ourselves. Signs for people of understanding.