What if? The most dangerous sentence in the world, it has the power to turn even the most self-assured person into a sobbing mess of crippling self-doubt. We all have our ‘What If’, for me, it is a person. Jurgen Mross was a retrieval doctor who worked for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, attached to the Alice Springs hospital.
It is hard to know what exactly it was about him that drew me to him. Working at the hospital switchboard, I was surrounded by doctors all day, and while they were all pleasant enough, none of them ever appealed to me in a romantic sort of way. Jurgen was different, the air fizzled whenever he was near, there was, for me at least, an attraction.
Quiet and respectful, strikingly handsome with a wicked sense of humour and a silky South African accent, he treated everyone with the same level of courtesy, whether a patient, doctor or stranger. It was refreshing to see. There were nights when he would wander past on his way off shift and stop for a chat. Now that I have retired from the hospital, I miss those chats more than I miss anything else.
What if I had been bold, instead of so introverted? What if I had told him that I liked him, that I enjoyed talking with him? What if I had been bold enough to try flirting with him? What if he had smiled kindly at me and told me that he wasn’t interested, that he was happily married with kids, or worse yet, the universal blow of ‘I’m just not that into you’. What if that hadn’t happened? What if he had smiled a slow sexy smile and asked me to have coffee with him? What if we had clicked, dated and ultimately married? What if we had become parents? What if we were unhappy? What if we were happy?
What if, what if, what if? They swirl around my head in an unending loop. What if’s are an adults version of the ever popular Choose Your Own Adventure series of children’s books. Unlike the books, there is no winning a game of What If, it only leads to more What Ifs, and ultimately, dissatisfaction and possible regret.
I sometimes contemplate trying to reach out to Jurgen, but I think the moment has passed, for as memorable as Jurgen is for me, I have never been memorable to anyone before, a fact that hurts to admit. A part of me is scared to reach out, afraid of the truth, for if he confessed that he had felt the same way, the regret of knowing I let the opportunity pass me by would be greater than the regret I have from not telling him how I felt. Maybe I will grow old with this crush, wrapping it tightly around me like a shawl on the colder days, as an introvert, it is hard to put myself out there, loneliness is preferable to rejection.