06/19/2014 01:20 pm ET Updated Aug 19, 2014

Reflections of a Life Not Lived

A few weeks ago, I was leaving our local playground when I ran into a former colleague. Unbeknownst to me, she lives in the neighborhood with her family. Last night we grabbed drinks.

As we gabbed away, conducting five conversations at the same time as we're wont to do when there's so much to share, it's been too long and we're perhaps a little too excited to get of the house, have an adult conversation, trade stories and discover similarities ("Oh my God, ME TOOOO!") I found myself thinking: Why hadn't we been closer sooner?

Why had I chosen to spend my time with the inconsequential? She would've been an amazing friend and support throughout my often difficult days. She also would've been there when no one else was. She's not the kind of person who turns her back. She's, as my grandfather would say, good people. Yet, I hung with the bad. The flakes. The phonies. The social-climbing, back-stabbing, step-on-each-other-to-get-ahead club. Of course, I only half knew this at the time. It wasn't until I was gone to realize the full picture. A portrait of ugliness. A study in cynicism.

What is it in life that leads us to one decision over another? And why is it often the "wrong" one?

In high school, there were, of course, the different kids. I was always kind to them but never got too close. Their strangeness swayed me. But it's that same weirdness that today makes them great. They're the ones changing the world, making others think, question, provoking, exciting... And the "cool" kids? Where are they? Exactly.

In college, the guys I didn't give a chance to? Friends I didn't, well, befriend? Why not?

I often wonder what life would be like had I made different choices. A Sliding Doors, If/Then type of experiment of a life not lived.

In some moments, I can almost see it. As if I'm a character living outside the lines of well-worn pages. Brought to life in historical-based fantasy, my own imagination. Head dazed, eyes glazed, floating through fiction.

Then my daughter babbles, my husband laughs and I'm brought back to my reality. The place I chose to be. The only truth I know.

I made those decisions for a reason. Went with my gut, head, heart... whatever body part led the way at that particular moment, it was authentic, deliberate, passionate. It was me, then.

For the me now to question is almost disrespectful.

The "what-ifs" will kill you if you let them. Overpower your brain, derail your heart and happiness in the now. So I choose to focus on my present, not a pretend past.

The good news is, the neighborhood colleague and I are friends now, making up for lost time. Perhaps I can appreciate her more after everything I've been through. Perhaps there were specific reasons on her side of not making much of an effort either. Whatever it was, it wasn't meant to be.

I'm happy. At least, when I get out of my own head!

And that girl -- the one with the different decisions and familiar yet foreign journey? I hope she's happy too.