Oh, good timing.
This month marks the 20th anniversary of my biggest mistake: leaving the Coast Guard.
If I'd stayed and become a Marine Science Technician, I'd have spent the last two decades actually doing the kinds of Making The World Better Sciencey Things that I went back to school to do.
Instead of still trying to get a career in Marine Science in my mid-40s started, I'd either have retired five years ago at half pay, or be getting ready to do so in five years at three-quarters pay. I'd be set up to start a second career, with a solid financial cushion.
It's entirely possible that, via various programs, I might have retired with that Baccalaureate that obsessed me for so long.
Would I have still met quelonzia if I'd stayed in? Probably.
Would we have still gotten married? I think we might have.
Would things have still ended as badly as they have?
I have no idea. Would the power disparity in our relationship have been any less glaring if the dominant force shaping our lives had been my military career?
Gods know that I've made a lot of mistakes in my time, but leaving the Coast Guard is the single biggest one.
But I closed that door a long time ago.
Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda is toxic. That's why memes are, as the icon says, a hazard.