The 15th of August 1994 – Cedar Rapids, Iowa

(found in the back pocket of a pair of jeans once worn by a close friend but who is now a stranger)

My Goodness,

If only things were different, I keep thinking.

Imagine how much different things would be, if only things were different. Imagine, if only some small things had been even just slightly different, how much different the world would be.

It was a year ago, wasn’t it?

Maybe a little more. Maybe it was a little less.

A year or two ago, and just think about all that has happened. Think about all that has happened and all that has not.

Think of how different things would be.

The laundry machines weren’t working that day, so I had to hand wash my clothes in a bathtub and dry them one by one with a hair dryer.

I was tired and you wanted to take a nap.

Imagine how different things would be – big things – if only things were different.

I had to tie my shoe, so I let go of your hand.

The garbage man teased me because I was wearing that wool knit cap with the big bauble on the top. I didn’t have time to shower, so I wore the hat to hide my hair. I was up all night with the hair dryer and my wet clothes.

Small things.

I wonder if they add up. Do a lot of small things – the socks we choose to wear, for instance, or forgetting to bring an umbrella on a partly cloudy day – do the small things add up and change the big things? Do the big things just appear out of nowhere? Are the big things always there, watching us and out of our control?

I took an urgent call one afternoon and put it on speakerphone. My voice sounded far away, she said, crying.

Where would I be right now – what different place would I inhabit, what different feelings would I feel – if, on a Saturday afternoon in September, I had eaten a Hershey’s milk chocolate candy bar instead of an Almond Joy?

Just think of how different things would be if things had only been able to be different.

H.U. Humphrey


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