When The ‘What Ifs’ In Life Start Keeping You Up At Night


It’s 2:45 in the morning. I should be asleep. But I should be so many other things in life.

I’m used to all that by now. It’s just the way of my life these days. Craving liquor and cigarettes, a man between my legs, a mission in life. Life’s just been weird lately. And it only gets worse the older you get, because you should know all these things, you should have all these things. My wishing is endless. And it feels weird to wish so hard, with my heart beating like I’m terrified when there’s nothing really to be terrified of. Unless that’s what the future feels like for the chronically aimless.

I think backwards. I think forwards. I think of right now. Little snippets of ideas and cravings and truths that make me feel like I’m in the middle of a perfect storm. The questions won’t stop. The what ifs are crazy.

What if? What if? What if?

It breaks me to consider how different things could have been had I just made another choice. My mind is completely fucked even thinking about it, as it’s drenched with the fragrant possibility of me being happy, being successful, finding the love of my life. I’m exhausted by it, yet still I cannot sleep.

I think of a Conor Oberst song. I think of what it really feels like to love and be loved. I think of what I’d be doing right now had I moved to all the little and big cities I’d promised myself I would.

It’s funny the promises you make to yourself, the ideas you have of it, and the real reason why it never happened.

Why didn’t I go? It’s a question that pulses. But I know why, I think. I know why I didn’t go. Why didn’t I do so many things differently? But all I can do is swallow the reason and wish I was out drunk somewhere, devoting myself to some dark bar and analyzing absence and how it all feels the same no matter what it is you’re talking about—even though it always somehow feels less in dark corners where the lonely liquor is endless.

But I’m not drunk. I am here. I’m here in this stupid silence of 2:45, drowning with questions and thoughts and lyrics and poems and first sentences and all the things I should have said and all the things I wished someone could do to me right now.

If only they knew what went on inside my head. If only they knew what I really wanted.

My heart is still beating so hard I can practically taste it. I am wide awake. But that’s just my life. I can despise it or take it. So I take it, even though I’m not sure what difference it makes exactly. What if? I turn over and hug my knees. What if a million things?

Minutes pass. The dark gets warmer, almost as if there’s light somewhere, and slowly my heart begins to settle. Someone is pouring wine. They’re asking about the book I’ve written. They’re looking at me in such a way. And there’s music playing. What is the name of this song? I ask. But they don’t answer me. They just smile. So I smile back, like I already know, and my cheeks flush. They ask me how it feels. How what feels? I ask, as I sip my wine. And suddenly my whole body belongs to them, being kissed like I’ve never been kissed. The whole world stops, even though I don’t know at all where I am but I know for sure that I don’t ever want to leave. Time has left. Other places have become nowhere. There are no questions. There is nothing to wish or wonder, feel absent about. I belong here. I am loved here.

But that always happens to me, or some version of it, having dreams like that. It’s the only lightness I can ever hope for in the heavy wave of what 2:45 means, until I wake up again and reality surges back into me.

I turn over again. I hug my knees.

What if? But what if a million things?