Friday, April 11, 2008

Ms. Wells Regrets...

by Christine Wells

I fell in love for the first time when I was 9--with a much older man. He was a former Rugby Union player. He'd played for Ireland and for the British Lions, probably the best fly half ever (but then I'm biased). And he stayed with us one winter in the Rugby season.

But not only was he a brilliant athlete, a charmer with the gift of the gab (he was Irish, after all), he was a thoroughly good man. When he heard I played softball and netball at school, he bought me a netball hoop and showed me how Donald Bradman used to repeatedly hit a cricket ball in the air on his bat to improve his hand-eye co-ordination. He was a gentleman who seemed as happy drinking tea with my mother or throwing a ball with a little girl as he was going out with the lads. And he made everyone laugh. The time he imitated the captain of the French Rugby team sticks in my mind. I mean, have you ever heard an Irishman imitate a Frenchman? A perfect hero for a romance novel, though he would have laughed off the idea. Did I mention he was modest, too?

As the years went on, he still wrote to the family and I wrote back, though I admit I'm not the best correspondent in the world. When I was married, he sent a beautiful marriage creed and on the birth of my first son, he sent an Irish Rugby teddy bear that unzips and turns inside out to become a football. Sure and they're never too young to start playing Rugby, he'd say.
When I was in my twenties I finally visited Ireland for a few days and stayed with friends who were living there. I had his telephone number, knew where he lived.

But I agonized. I worried. Would he be the same? Would he even want to see me? Would we have anything to talk about after all these years? You see, he'd become such a mythical figure in my mind, such a hero (and no, I wasn't still in love with him, being happily married by that time!) I simply choked when I thought of meeting him again.

I finally plucked up the courage to call. And I missed him. I didn't manage to make contact until after I'd left Ireland, and it was too late.

I don't know when I'll get to the Emerald Isle again. I wish I'd seen him when I'd had the chance.

Now, our Joanie T is off to Ireland (yay JT!) and it made me think of this man, and all the opportunities we miss when we're too diffident or too scared to take a chance. So after I finish writing this blog, I'm going to write to him. And maybe one day, we'll meet again.

Do you have any regrets? A person you lost contact with, a manuscript that's polished to perfection but you haven't sent out for fear of rejection? How about joining me and make a resolution to change that today?

63 comments:

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

BWOK?!?!?!
Can it be?

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

How very appropo that MOI should bet the GR on a post about an Irishman...

Regrets? Too many to mention, Madame. But do as I say and not as I do. ;-) I'm sure your Irish friend will be very pleased to hear from you!

AC
exhausted from the temp J.O.B. :-P

Anna Campbell said...

AC, congratulations on el roosterio! It's a while since he's visited you, isn't it? I think he's got sick of his regular mistresses and is calling on some old flames ;-)

Anna Campbell said...

Awwww, Christine, what a gorgeous story! The one you were too shy to follow up on? Yes, I have a couple of those! But your boy sounds like such a lovely hero. And a kind heart as well? Wow! I can see why you write such great, knee-wobbling books. Your description of him had me at hello! Or would that be "top of the morning ta ya"?

Christine Wells said...

AC, congrats on the rooster! Maybe he can mark some of those papers for you.

Christine Wells said...

Hi Anna! Sure and begorrah! Thanks for saying that about my books. Actually, my Irishman sounds a bit too nice to be a hero, doesn't he?

Jane said...

I do regret losing touch with friends I made in college and high school. I guess it's easier nowadays to locate long lost friends and loves through the internet. Who knows what results will come up after we search a name on Google?

Christine Wells said...

Jane, that's so true! Facebook has been great for getting in touch with old friends. As for old loves, hmm. I think they're better left a fond (or not so fond) memory most of the time!

Amy Andrews said...

Regrets...I've had a few.

Regret can be quite destructive methinks if you let it rule your life.

As for now. I regret I didn't get an agent four years ago. And apologise most sincerely to those who nagged me for 4 years. You were all right ;-)

Christine Wells said...

Amy, agents can make such a difference, can't they? But you've got one now. That's the main thing.

And you're right, you can't move forward if you're full of regret. But I do think it's good to remember that old chestnut, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Annie West said...

Christine, I hope you get on the phone to Ireland soon and catch up. Don't wait for your next trip there or you could miss him again and you'll always regret it.

I've tried very hard not to dwell on regret too much. As Amy said, it can be rather destructive. These days I try to focus on doing the things that are important to me. Of course I don't always manage it but I'm trying...

Annie

Christine Wells said...

Annie, you're so centred and together, I'm not surprised that you made that resolution long ago to concentrate on what's important.

Well, I did it. I emailed:) We'll see what happens next.

Joan said...

Christine,

I'd give you a spot in the luggage this morning but it's a bit full.

I'll keep an eye out as I head out.

I had a friend during nursing school who I had a huge blow out with...the kind that fractures friendships. Never understood on my side what caused it but she turned like a rabid dog.

Did not see her for over 5 years then took care of her Mom in the hospital and it became crystal clear....the poor girl was nuts!

I regreted not realizing that at the time and approaching the problem differently.

Christine Wells said...

Joanie T, bon voyage! I would love a place in your luggage, but I'd definitely put you into excess baggage. *g*

I'm sorry to hear about your friend but it does sound to me like you couldn't possibly have known what was going on with her.

Buffie said...

I think everyone has regrets. Of course there are a few in my life. I wish I had spent more time with my grandparents before they passed. I wish I had the courage to really go for my dream of swimming in the Olympics. I wish I had understood my mother-in-law more during the first couple years of my marriage. So many things that could have been done differently. But I take all of those situations as lessons of life.

Caren Crane said...

Aunty, congrats on nabbing the GR! He may need a bit of a rest after being with Donna yesterday. All that having to peck her into submission takes a toll. *g*

Ah, Christine, I know exactly the feeling you described. Wanting to reach out, but fearing disappointment. It has kept me from contacting any number of old friends as I traveled around the country on business.

When I have followed through and seen old friends, it has always been wonderful! People really are touched to be remembered and thought of.

But then there are those that I didn't. I tell myself that if I were really that anxious to see them, I would make the effort - or they would contact me. A complete rationalization, of course.

I think my biggest regret involves a friend who I believe has written me off. She is a dear woman, but rather needy. She's sort of an emotional rollercoaster and I could never predict how she would react to anything. I'm sure you all know by now that my life is quite full, busy and complicated. She would call at the last moment and want to get together that night or in short order. Sometimes it worked and sometimes not.

Though I pursued her through phone calls and e-mails for several months and even sent a card or two, I never heard from her. So, I'm sure she decided I didn't care enough for her and let the relationship go.

She is someone I worry about and wish would contact me - in a way. But there is a small, selfish part of me that feels free from the stress of tracking her ups and downs and doesn't miss the agonizing I did over her.

I'm trying to okay with letting go on my end. It goes against the grain, because I am so persistent!

flchen1 said...

Christine, what a lovely post! And yes, your friends sounds like a wonderful person! I hope you'll soon be e-mailing back and forth :)

AC, congrats on the GR! He's quite the busy bird--not one for regrets, methinks!

Caren, it's so very difficult with friends who need more than you have the bandwidth to give. It's very hard to let go without guilt, but it's rarely possible to provide what they need when you actually have other people or things going on in your life :(

Hmm... regrets? That it's been over five years since I last put on a leotard? Maybe it's time to find a sitter and sign up for class again...

doglady said...

Congrats on capturing that fickle feathered friend, Aunty C!!

What a sweet post, Christine. He sounds like a real gentleman. I hope he gets in touch with you. It is odd that you posted this today. I went to a small women's college for my bachelor's degree. Last weekend they made a long time music professor an honorary alumnae. As one of her former students I was invited to sing in a concert in her honor, but was unable to do so because of work obligations. I sent her a nice note and asked her to report back to me about her day. I got her reply yesterday and she told me all about it. Many of my classmates were able to perform and they all got together for dinner. She told me they had decided they all wanted to see me and have lunch sometime soon. Her daughter lives in a nearby city AND has a connection to one of MY former students. I mentioned my writing in my letter and her daughter googled me and they all read all about it and are very enthusiastic. I have not seen many of these girls in 20 years, but we are now planning to get together. I am really looking forward to it!

terrio said...

Lovely blog. He sounds like one of the good guys and those can be quite hard to come by. Hope he answers your email.

Congrats, AC. I'm thinking the GR might have a hangover from all that alkeyhall yesterday. LOL! Give the poor thing a heat pad, won't you?

I try never to have regrets. Being divorced, that's not so easy. But I tell myself I have the gift of my daughter because I married the person I did so it's all good.

I think the trick is to focus on the future and not the past. That's how I get through my days. I know there are great things ahead for me and since there's nothing I can do about the past, I have to let it go.

About those friends, I say reduce the negativity. Like Caren, I'm one to hold on until the end, but recently concluded negativity breeds more of the same and I can't afford that. I want to be happy and sometimes that means cutting some of the chains that weigh us down.

Bon voyage, JT! Have a great time and don't forget those Irishmen you're smuggling back. Have the Romans tie them up if necessary.

MsHellion said...

Yes, I've got some regrets, but I imagine if I did all the things I regretted NOT doing, I'd still regret most of them--just because I'm perverse that way. Apparently I can't be made happy.

But the part about letting your manuscripts rot under your bed is right...and would be one of the few I wouldn't regret, even when it does blow up in my face. *LOL* It's on my list. Revise, query, send. Time to throw the baby out of the nest and watch it plummet to the ground....

Claudia Dain said...

What a lovely man! I hope you two reconnect, Christine.

I finally figured out that I regret the things I didn't do, not the things I did. Realizing that has led me take more chances, to reach out more.

jo robertson said...

Ah, Christine, the sweet pain of regret! Great topic this morning.

AC, it's that DDJ (or should I say dreadful NIGHT job) that gives you the chance at nabbing the GR. Yay for bringing him back to CA! And I know you DO so love an Irishman!

Good comment about reaching out, Claudia. I too regret the things I didn't do, the risks I wasn't willing to take. It's made me bolder in my old age.

I really regret that I didn't keep in touch with a group of girls from high school. We were best buds, ate lunch together, slumber parties, all that stuff. But college separated us and we drifted apart.

Farrah Rochon said...

Oh, *sigh*. He is the perfect description of a romance hero.

All my regrets are boring--not pursuing my Ph.D., not telling off my old boss when I finally left my job (still get the urge to send an email now and then)--but nothing as heart-squeezing as your story, Christine.

Nancy said...

AC--congratulations!

Christine, I also think your friend will be glad to see you. Who wouldn't want to hear that they'd touched someone's life in a memorable way?

Regrets? Sure. I became friends with one of my 2nd cousins when we lived in the same city. The relationship has petered out, though, because I didn't do enough to sustain it. Things got in the way. I'd do that differently if I could, but I think it's now, for various reasons, too late.

My drama teacher, who held classes in her basement in our small town, taught me to project my voice effectively and to block out the people watching me, a skill that enables me to speak in front of groups. When you're standing in a big, old, high-ceilinged courtroom thirty feet from the judge and with fifty feet of spectators behind you, both projection and poise are essential. I wish I'd told her how her lessons carried into my life, but she's gone now.

OTOH, I did go see my high school Latin teacher before she died. When the dh and I went to Hadrian's wall, I thought of her. I bought her a postcard, which I took to her in the nursing home. She had a knack for making ancient Rome come alive (too bad Joan's somewhere over the Atlantic and not here to read this part), one reason I cared about it so many years later. The visit seemed to mean a lot to her. She died a few months after that, and I've always been glad I went to see her.

So, Christine, I'm sure your friend will welcome your letter.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Great post, Christine! And congrats Aunty C on nabbing the wee wicked bird. :>

My mother used to say, seemingly ad nauseum, "Regrets are vain" which she would then go on to explain as "you can't go back and do it over, so move on" The same pattern, over and over...we children used to do the mouth the words as she said them, behind her back thing. I've wondered as I got older what painful experience she was exorcising with that little mantra. :>

I didn't really understand it til I was a grown woman. If you cna't change it, and you focus on it, it steals some of your energy. Lord knows I don't have much of that to spare these days, so I try to let go of the regret and move on. Oddly enough, once I do, I frequently hear from the person, or see something about the issue that makes the letting go seem the perfect thing to do. Couldn't see it BEFORE I let go, of course. Grrrr.

The other thing is, when I realize that theres something I've not done in a while that I always loved to do, I really try to do it right away. There's a reason we let it lapse - feeling bad about ourselves, trying not to remember a specific thing - for me I used to sing. A lot. I stopped when a group I was singing with got into a flap over some stupid stuff. I stepped out of it, so as to not have the emotional roller-coaster you mentioned, Caren. I never went back. Now I'm okay with not going back to that group - they were toxic! - but to deprive myself of the joy of song? Silly me.

So, Fedora, grab that leotard! Grins. *humming a few bars of Wagner* I'm sure we can find something to sing and dance to while Christine checks her email...

jo robertson said...

Oh, Nancy, what a sweet story about your Latin teacher. I adored mine -- Mrs. Beauchamp -- but also was deathly afraid of her. A stern old broad.

I want to add that I also regreat NOT writing my favorite authors after finishing one of their books. I always thought that it didn't matter or they'd never read them. Now, of course, I know differently.

jo robertson said...

Aha, mshellion, but the baby might soar to the skies. You'll never know unless you kick him out of the nest.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

For the record, Jo, I was afraid of my Latin teacher too. She too was a stern old broad. Very sterotypically Germanic Frau look with sternly sensible shoes and buttoned up frocks w/ support hose.

*shudders* Dorothy Mae Diegel. The name sent fear into hundreds of kids.

Not the kind of person you could adore. *shudders* I have to go think about something else now...

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

As much as I was afraid of Herr Diegel (yes, we called her by the male moniker), there were plenty I adored. You make a good point Jo, about authors and teachers. Now that I "know better" I realize how many deserve an email or letter saying, "Wow! You wrote a great book!" or "I cannot tell you how much your class taught me, or how it impacted my life."

Can you imagine how cool it must be to get that kind of letter? Must go write some of those...the numbers are legion...

Helen said...

Congrats on the GR Aunty Cindy have fun together

Regrets I think we all have regrets people we have lost touch with I try not to dwell to much on those things and get on with life I think I would go insane if I did I stress enough about day to day living and coping with my job and trying to find more time for me. Great post Christine and I do often think about friends I have lost touch with and would love to get together with them but it is always hard to find the time lately.
Joan have a wonderful trip and have lots of fun.

Have Fun
Helen

Christine Wells said...

Buffy, you're so right about learning lessons! And wow, I didn't know you dreamed of becoming an Olympic swimmer. So much sacrifice to achieve that standard, though, isn't there?

I think Claudia is right. Hi Claudia! The lesson I've learned from my regrets is that usually, you only regret the things you don't do.

Christine Wells said...

Sorry, buffie! Mis-spelled your name. ONly excuse is I haven't had my morning coffee yet. Sorry!

Christine Wells said...

Hee, Caren. You, persistent? Never!

But I know the kind of person you describe--someone who is always lamenting that people hurt her feelings but is pretty inconsiderate of others' feelings herself. More power to you for moving on, I think.

Christine Wells said...

A leotard? My goodness, Fedora, don't we have a lot of talented people in the lair? That sounds like something you can fix right away:) Hey, and we want photos, don't we banditas?

Christine Wells said...

Pam, what a lovely gathering to look forward to! I'm so glad you're still going to see everyone and that they're supportive of your writing. Let us know how it goes!

Christine Wells said...

Hi Terrio! You're very wise to look to the future and keep moving on.

I agree that keeping so-called friends around who only make you unhappy is not a good thing. Life's too short, IMO. I have so little time to spend with friends anyway, why would I want to waste it with someone who makes me unhappy? A good friend going through a difficult patch--I'm there. But those who spend their lives draining other people's vitality with their woes--no. I feel like telling them go and work at the animal shelter or for a charity and think about someone else less fortunate than you, then you might see your life isn't so bad. But I don't:)

Christine Wells said...

MsHellion, if your blog posts are any indication of your ms quality, I think that baby is going to soar! You never know until you try, yada yada. Best of luck!

Christine Wells said...

Jo, it's funny how you can be such great friends with people and then after you leave the institution, you realize that nothing but that institution really bound you together. I've reconnected with a lot of old school friends, but my best buds aren't around any more. Funny how these things happen.

Christine Wells said...

Farrah, if it's any consolation, I've found that telling someone off who richly deserves it only feels good for about, oh, a minute. The amount of angst involved in screwing up the courage to do it, then going over and over what you said in your mind later just isn't worth that minute of satisfaction, IMO. So these days, I save it!

But you can always go back to your PhD can't you? What area did you study?

Christine Wells said...

Nancy, what a lovely thing to do for your Latin teacher. I think good teachers should be cherished! She must have appreciated your gesture very much. Thanks for sharing that with us.

Anna Campbell said...

Jo, that's one of my regrets - that I never wrote to authors who rocked my world and told them so. It really is wonderful to get letters like that. And even if they didn't reply, does it matter? At least I would have told them how much their writing meant to me. My favorite writer is Dorothy Dunnett who passed away a few years ago. I can now never, never tell her what an influence she had on me and how those books are part of my consciousness and how her bravery as a writer inspired me to take risks with what I created. I'll have to hope we both end up in the same place and I can tell her over our harp solos ;-)

Christine Wells said...

Jeanne wrote: The other thing is, when I realize that theres something I've not done in a while that I always loved to do, I really try to do it right away.

What great advice, Jeanne. THere are quite a few things like that I've let go since having children. Must make a list! And don't forget we want you singing some of those bandita ditties you've penned at National!

Christine Wells said...

Hi Helen! Hope you manage to get in touch with some of those friends. Even one--it really will make you feel great!

Must dash, have a hair appointment, but I so agree about contacting authors to say you enjoyed their books. It's such a wonderful feeling to get mail like that!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Wonderful post, Christine. And like everyone else, I'm thinking he'll love hearing from you, don't ya know!

Regrets...Well there was the date with the entire linebackers corp of...oh wait...uhm

When I look back on my life I love every move we've made and every person who has come and gone from my life. I do wish I'd gotten to spend a little more time with my grandparents as a young adult before they passed on, though.

flchen1 said...

Urk! Um, definitely no photos, sorry, Banditas! I'm going to check out the class schedule for this summer, but under no circumstances will there be photos documenting any classes taken :)

Have a super hair appointment, Christine!

Christine Wells said...

Suz, snorked about the linebacker comment. I agree with you about your grandparents. I wish I'd written down all their stories, too.

Christine Wells said...

Ha, Fedora. I'm back! Let's just say this cut is going to take some getting used to.

OK, no photos, but I'd love to hear that you've taken some classes. Good luck!

Christine Wells said...

Anna, what a shame about Dorothy Dunnett--I hope you'll get your wish and be harpies together*g*. You should do a blog post about her books and how they affected your life and your writing. I'm sure a lot of people would be interested in what writers influenced you.

Farrah Rochon said...

I've found that telling someone off who richly deserves it only feels good for about, oh, a minute.

You're so right, Christine. Now, when I'm frustrated, I can just act out what I would have said to him, and fantasize about how I hope he would have reacted (involves tears and begging). The reality would never have lived up to my fantasy. :P

But you can always go back to your PhD can't you? What area did you study?

Psychology. I passed on the opportunity to participate in a program at LSU that would have given me the Ph.D. in two years after completion of my Masters. Instead, I chose to write romance novels. I'm much happier, so I guess there's not much regret there.

jo robertson said...

LOL, Jeanne, I don't think Mrs. Beauchamp had a first name.

jo robertson said...

Helen, isn't it a sad commentary on our hectic lives that we don't have time to re-connect with friends? When I was young, I always thought there was plenty of time.

Now, with "time's winged chariot" at my back, not so much.

jo robertson said...

Farrah, it's so hard when you're (obviously) talented in more than one area. Both my daughters have psychology degrees, but they only use them to "parent." Only, well, that's a big deal.

But if your heart lies in romance writing, you gotta go there. My good friend just got her family counseling certificate and she's 60! Never too late, I guess.

Keira Soleore said...

Keira is back in The Lair with her Phoenix Rising trick after her Houdini Vanishing act for the past few weeks.

I missed you all terribly, oh so terribly. Gosh, I even missed Gerry Rooster. :)

My tweenself fell in love with a drummer for my debut. My father was highly amused as were the adults in my extended family. (Clearly, my dad believed in telling everyone who would listen about it.) My friends scouted the news and magazines for any tidbits and pictures related to him, so I would be kept up-to-date with the latest. I saw him in concerts and met him a few times over the years, the latest being last May in Seattle. I still think he's HAWT-Shtuff!! I distinctly remember the first time I saw him. My heart felt like it would thunder right out of my chest, my eyes were staring, my hands shaking and cold, my mouth dry, and my feet numb. He was wear a copper-sulfate blue shirt. Ahem!

Keira Soleore said...

Foanna!! jumping up and down Christine mentioned Don Bradman in her blog!! OMG! The best cricket players of all time.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Keira!!! Christine and I knew Don Bradman would get you back to us! We've missed you too!

Keira Soleore said...

Prescience, my dear, 'tis elementary. ahem!

Christine Wells said...

Hey, Farrah, I had to laugh at the tears and begging:) That is a much healthier way to go, IMO.

And psychology must be such an interesting field. But then, how could you regret becoming a romance writer instead? I think you're the winner there. Must be useful when you write to have all that background, though.

Christine Wells said...

Jo, trust you to come out with an apt quote! My winged charriot seems to have turbo-charge these days.

Keira Soleore said...

That must be it, Jo-mama. Winged chariots are to be blamed for whisking me away from the Lair and bringing me back, only to whi...

Christine Wells said...

Ah, the lure of the great Don! Welcome back, my dear. Hey Keira, guess what? My father interviewed Don Bradman for a cricket book he was writing. What an amazing experience.

Love your drummer story. That is so cool that you still see him occasionally and that he's still hawt! There was never anything romantic with my Irishman. I was far too young. But I had a HUGE crush. Think I still do, really. Thanks for coming back to see us. Don't be a stranger:)

Keira Soleore said...

WHenever my health gives me a shiner, I retreat to lick my wounds in private, then roust up again to sally forth and prose on till all the Banditas and their Buddies are napping.

Christine Wells said...

Keira, I'm sorry to hear about your health. Glad you're feeling better now. And we Banditas are never caught napping, living on both sides of the globe. There's always someone awake to guard the lair!

Keira Soleore said...

Christine, nothing like bad puns to make me feel tres glad to be back here.