Decisions, Decisions

Still reflecting on last time’s post, about Katawa Shoujo, Act 1. It’s a good story, or rather, five good stories that branch and intertwine, and despite my reservations about the developers’ strategy for completing the visual novel, the story has some resonance for me.

As you interact with the story, you make a lot of decisions that don’t appear very important on the surface. Something as simple as introducing yourself, choosing to take a walk, or taking an interest in someone’s artwork. The action seems insignificant, but a few scenes later, you may be invited to lunch or not given the time of day, depending on what you chose to do. You may meet someone at the beginning of the story who seems standoffish or not particularly interesting, only to have them reappear later in a different context, revealing a complexity you never knew existed. Decisions you made long ago will determine whether a misstep on your part will be endearing, or fatal.

Not unlike real life. Not unlike my life.

I met my future wife the day I walked onto my new high school campus my sophomore year. We’d just moved into town, and I came in to school a week early to talk to the football coach. Some girls were sitting on a wall adjoining the parking lot, near the sidewalk that led to the gym. The girl I would marry eight years later waved and called out to me, and we had a brief conversation. She welcomed me to the school, and I thanked her.

I didn’t think much about it. In fact, I didn’t even remember it until after we got married and she reminded me.  We exchanged maybe a dozen words during high school, most of them when we happened to land at the same cafeteria table a week before I graduated. I was happy to see her then. I’d always thought she was a nice girl, but we moved in different social circles, so we’d never really interacted. I thought at the time that it was a shame I hadn’t gotten to know her better, and of course, I hadn’t a clue that she was interested in me and had been since our first encounter.

If I’d ignored her that first day, or a couple of years later in the cafeteria, things might have turned out much differently. In the interim, we dated other people, none quite right for either of us. We corresponded in college, pen-pal stuff, after our fathers became friends and “suggested” it.

Then, like some cliched plot twist, I had a personal crisis, and she was there when I needed her the most.  I noticed all the wonderful qualities she had that I’d never paid attention to before. We were married a couple of years later, despite a few missteps on my part (Helpful tip: Don’t wait three weeks to call a girl after you tell her you love her).

We make hundreds of decisions every day, and have numerous encounters with other people, some planned, some seemingly random. Every decision has a consequence. Some consequences are trivial, and some have repercussions you’ll never know about.

Some consequences will change your life.

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