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Do Overs: Love, Marriage, Jazz and a little Spanish

Millie Jefferson

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Linda Burnham and Steve Durland in New York, 1981
(Courtesy of Linda Burnham)
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I got the chance to get married again. I married my first husband when I was 21 and had three kids in two and a half years. That marriage lasted for 11 years, but was kind of doomed from the start. My current husband and I have been together for 27 years. We lived together for 13 and have been married for 14 years. If I could do it all again, I would not have rushed into marriage at 21.

Linda Burnham
Saxapahaw, N.C.

***

I love Jazz music. While I was going to college in New York City, I was working for a courier company in mid-town Manhattan. While getting a bite to eat at the bar around the corner, I recognized the late baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams. I said hello and told him what a big fan I was, etcetera.

Being in his cups, as they say, he invited me to a rehearsal at producer Teo Macero's loft. I told him I had to go to work and he said, "That's your problem."

I said, "Well, I have to pay the rent." To which he replied, "That's also your problem."

I wish I would have called in sick from the bar and gone with him. If I could have a do-over I would definitely miss a night of work.

Jesse Levy
North Hollywood, Calif.

***

About three years ago, my girlfriend decided to move from the Midwest to Los Angeles. We made the difficult decision to give up on the relationship. I actually helped her move by driving her to L.A. It was very painful to give up on a good relationship and I swore that if I had the chance to do it over, I would make it go differently.
Time passed.

Then, just last year the new woman I was dating broke the news to me that she was leaving the Midwest for Los Angeles.

Oddly, almost the exact same thing happened as the first time, despite my past promises to myself. Not only did I drive her and all of her things out there, but I actually declined an offer to go with her.

Well, I already had two chances, and it seems like I missed the boat both times. But I guess if I had a THIRD chance, I would get my courage in order and go with the woman.

It is disappointing to have a second chance and to make almost the exact same mistakes I already made. I don't even particularly like the Midwest.

Word to the wise, though, be careful about wishing for a second chance because if you get it and make the same mistake again, you may end up with even more regret. It might make you feel a little crazy!

Joshua Pfenning
Lincoln, Neb.

***

I loved my high school Spanish class. I took the textbook everywhere. I could not stop looking ahead to see what we were going to learn next. I took the first quiz and received 100 percent. The next-highest grade in the class was a 67 percent. The teacher asked me to stay after school. He very politely, very gently, asked me to take the quiz again, while he watched me write the answers. He graded it at once. I got 100 percent on that quiz also. It occurred to me only years later, actually only about five years ago, that he had believed that I had cheated on the exam. The thought never occurred to me, as a kid!

Susan Nafziger
San Gabriel, Calif.

***

If I could have a do-over I would get a job placement in England as a 20-year-old girl and continue to work and study abroad. When I was 20, I was off seeing the world. It was April 1969 and I became homesick and returned home to Indiana. I had been working in Germany since 1968 as a nurse's aid and a factory worker. I still maintain a friendship with a family that I met that Christmas, 1968. Ahhh, the memories of one's Life.

Nada Huron
Cincinnati, Ohio

***

I made the rather unfortunate decision of falling in love with a great guy shortly after moving here to Fort Wayne, Ind. And right now I kinda feel really bad about it. I hadn't really paid attention to the signals he was giving from the get-go. I suppose I was blinded by love, but now, as I quickly approach graduation, I realize that I will either have to break things off with him or be bitter about giving up on my goals.

He has always stated he values security, whereas I am someone who has an activist orientation and value the ability to pack everything and move in three hours. I really feel horrible about the situation, because he is a great, sweet, loving being, but I am not emotionally prepared to give him what he really needs. If I could get a do-over I would not fall in love.

Eric Egler
Fort Wayne, Ind.

***

I've been in the medical field for 26 years, first as a respiratory therapist and now as a coder of medical records. I also bred and showed dogs for a number of years. I just think that animals, when treated and given attention, are much more thankful than a lot of the people we try so hard to save who just go back out and try to destroy their lives. So, if I had a do-over I would go to school and become a veterinarian.

Irene Adler
Melvindale, Mich.

***

When my husband and I married in January 2007, I quit a very good job, and moved to this area. Normally that wouldn't be something you would wish to do over, but he deployed in July.

I am working at a job that pays less than half of what I made in Greenville, SC. I have no family close by, it has taken me a year to find a church that I feel comfortable in, and I have no close friends here. This is not my first deployment with my husband, although it is the first since we married. However, the last one was not as hard because I had people and family to help me get through it. I pray that we get moved out of here as soon as he gets back. Now I wish that I had taken a leave of absence from my job, and moved back to Greenville, SC until the deployment was over.

Elizabeth Fisher
Vass, N.C.

***

My new neighbor, the little French girl, who chased me around the playground in fifth grade ... Well, I'd stop running, if I could do it all again.

Andrew Sleeth
Raleigh, N.C.

***

I pretty much made a mess of my first marriage and career because I was too immature and insecure to make a good choice in a mate and to follow my natural talents into the field I wanted. I had a natural talent for computers (back in the day when computers were hardly ubiquitous), but instead I ended up in law enforcement, and the stress of that job nearly ruined my health and certainly contributed to the failure of my marriage.

In addition, I was not secure enough to wait until I met someone who was my equal intellectually, shared my interests in the environment and the outdoors, and was mentally healthy. I married the first girl who would have me without laying any kind of foundation for that marriage. Our relationship devolved into acrimony, dissatisfaction, and infidelity (on my part). I finally left my marriage and hometown and moved 3,000 miles across the country, where I got the opportunity to work at a university and re-learned the computer skills I had forsaken for a decade on behalf of my first marriage.

I now run my own rich and fulfilling computer business and have had my doors open 19 years. After awhile, I started dating again, and met the woman who became my second wife. She was smart, considerate, mature and loved the earth. In a few weeks, we will have been married 20 years, and I can honestly say in that time, contrary to the nearly continuous battle that was my first marriage, we have never uttered a cruel or cross word to one another. I am truly blessed.

If I could go back, I would wait at least until I turned 30 to marry and have children, and instead spend those early years cultivating my natural talents with the goal of finding a career in that avocation.

Terry Stone
Birmingham, Ala.

  • Music Bridge:
    True Connection
    Artist: Takashi Wada
    CD: Araki (Onitor)

Comments

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  • By nose problem

    From Sugarcreek, OH, 03/08/2008

    I contracted some junk during those early yrs in the 80's I wished I could go back and stay home that night instead of getting a virus. Save yourself don't sleep with someone without a condom.it's a life sentance.don't people save yourself the pain.There is no such thing as a do over.

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