What they didn't tell us kids
is what it would cost—
this infinite variety of ways
to spend

our lives—oh,
the places we'd go,
the careers we'd climb,
the cities and towns we'd move to,
the friends we'd keep forever,
the true loves we'd marry
and remain faithful to
till death did us part,
the shows we'd binge,
the books we'd finish,
the games we'd beat,
the hobbies we'd master
and make into careers,
the gadgets we'd buy,
the craft beers we'd sample—

this expanse of choice is only valuable,
only hospitable, habitable
when—if, if
you choose,
and then
pay the price.

Paying the price comes after choosing.
Choose carefully, taste the options,
ask for samples, choose
lest they choose one for you—

but choose.
Sit with your choice, hold it close,
notice then
how the infinite alluring things not chosen
linger in your mind
extracting a price,
taking a toll,
draining blood
from your chosen life
until you finally choose
to pay for your life, and pay up:

not by mourning forever
the roads not taken

but by mourning them, and then
turning away.