I have a confession to make. I have a secret fantasy; A deep, dark alternate life that exists only in my mind.
Don’t get me wrong- I am very blessed to have the life that I have. I have 4 healthy, amazing kids that I adore and who sometimes like me. I have a husband who keeps me laughing and still thinks, after 20 years together, that I’m all that and a bag of chips. And a tub of ice cream. (He also thinks I’m crazy, but when has crazy ever interfered with a man’s pursuit of a woman? AmIRite?)
Having said that, I must admit there are moments when I imagine my life played out in another way.
Remember those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books?
I loved these books: The ability to chart the course of your life one decision at a time, and if it ended badly, you could always start over again and get a different outcome.
But real life isn’t a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. You CAN choose your own adventure, but once a path has been chosen, there are no re-dos; No UN-choosing the path. If you don’t like the outcome, there’s no going back, only going forward. And with you comes the baggage that you accumulate along the way.
I’m sure I’m not the only person who thinks about a different life they could have lived. One of the advantages of being a writer is that I have an outlet for my hyper-active imagination.
Last week I told Katy of “I want a dumpster baby” blog (http://www.chicagonow.com/i-want-a-dumpster-baby and https://www.facebook.com/IWantaDumpsterBaby?fref=ts) that looking at her spazz dance pics that she posts from her Chicago office elevator makes me want to go get a job in an office with an elevator.
I wasn’t kidding.
I’ve been a stay at home mom for nearly 19 years. My last office job (telemarketing for a timeshare- don’t hate me)was in 1994. To give some of you young folk perspective, Bill Clinton was president, OJ had killed his wife but hadn’t yet gone on trial, and “Friends” had just debuted. We’re talking a VERY long time ago. And even when I did work in an office, I worked on the first floor, so I never rode the elevator. (I did, however, make out with my not-yet husband in the stairwell.)
The office elevator is just a small representation of my alternate fantasy life.
I’ve been a West Coast girl my whole life. Born in Southern California, raised in a small farm town in Washington state, the furthest east I have ever lived was the five years spent in Utah. My hope in going to Utah was that we’d continue heading east, sort of like a reverse Lewis and Clark. (In this scenario, I play Sacajawea- see my previous post about my love of all things Native http://kbjackson.com/a-review-of-the-lone-ranger-and-other-ramblings/) The promotion that came, however, sent us back west to Socal. In fact, the home we bought was only blocks from the house I had lived in as a small child.
I love the West Coast. It’s all I’ve ever known. Maybe that’s part of the allure to me of the East Coast- the unknown.
About this time every year, I find myself longing for the East Coast city life. I start playing Billy Joel and Barry Manilow’s “Weekend in New England” on my iPod, craving brisk walks through crisp leaves to my office, dinner parties in my luxury metro condo and the buzz of city life.
Alas, my home is my office, I live in the suburbs of Seattle, and I’m more likely to be hosting playdates than cocktail parties.
My community is nationally ranked as one of America’s most livable. And it bears repeating, I have a great life. But- If I were living a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book and had the opportunity to spend one day trying on another life for size, the following is what it would look like:
I wake up early in the morning, refreshed and excited for the day. I remembered to wash off my makeup the night before, so I don’t have mascara smeared down to my nose. I look around my bedroom and see no baskets of clean laundry in need of being put away.
I get on my cute running clothes and there is no back fat or side boob oozing out of my sportsbra! Also, I am not on my period.
I take a nice run through the park, the leaves are changing, and the air is cool. My lungs do not gasp for air, my knee doesn’t ache and my neck and back feel strong, not like I am collapsing my spine with every step I take.
Following my 5 mile run, I go back to my condo with the lovely view of the city.
Which city? I don’t know. New York, maybe. Probably Boston. I’m Irish, you know. I thought about Chicago, but I hear it gets colder than a witch’s tit there and the wind will knock a 200lb man to the ground in an instant.
Besides, you’re missing the point. It doesn’t have to be any specific city, it’s “THE CITY.” Like Metropolis. Or Gotham.
I shower and change into my sophisticated, yet sexy work outfit. I even put on heels. I’m going to my “office job at the high rise with the elevator.”
I wave goodbye to my building manager who tells me I’m his favorite resident.
I don’t need a taxi. I could justify taking one, but it’s a beautiful fall day. I can walk. I am one with “THE CITY. ” Besides, this gives me an opportunity to grab a coffee and pastry (I earned it- remember I already ran 5 miles today) and chat with the café owner. Just because I live in the big city doesn’t mean people don’t know each other. I’m a regular. People know me here.
I walk the few short blocks to the giant high-rise where my company/law firm/publisher is located. The security guard asks about my mother who visited last month. I ask about his uncle battling cancer. We exchange witty repartee.
I get into the elevator. It’s sleek and modern, with Nat King Cole or Frank Sinatra crooning through the speaker. I am on my way up to a high level floor, because all of the best city offices are on upper floors. I am not suffering from an extreme fear of heights. Or of falling out the window of a skyscraper.
The receptionist greets me with a smile. We are friends. We have inside jokes. We make plans to go out for a drink after work.
I go into my office. It’s like something Katharine Hepburn would have had in a 1940’s glamour film.
I feel sophisticated and powerful when I am in there.
I don’t know what my job is. Whatever it is, I am highly proficient. A co-worker leans in and congratulates me on landing that account/winning that case/ getting my book published. I happily work through the morning, drinking my coffee, eating my pastry, and not letting anyone down. I can do my job uninterrupted. I actually complete tasks.
Around 1130 my friend pops in to ask me to go to lunch. Of course I will! Because I have time to do my job, take care of myself, AND still have time for my friends.
We eat a lovely lunch, we laugh and we make plans to spend the weekend at so-and-so’s house in the Hamptons/Cape Cod/Martha’s Vineyard.
The afternoon flies by. My boss calls a meeting in the conference room where I make some sort of stellar presentation and everyone thinks I’m a genius. I get an “atta girl” from my boss.
Soon it is time to leave work. I call my man, who has had an equally successful day and is in great spirits. He would love to meet my co-workers and me at the fun trendy bar down the street.
Cocktails, hors d’ouevres and laughter flow freely as we regale each other with humorous stories. My man not only tolerates my friends, he engages in uproarious conversations with them. Soon, though, he gives me that look. The one that lets me know he’s ready to go. A wink and a smile. Butterflies.
We share a taxi back to my condo, where my white carpet is spill-free, my countertops aren’t sticky, and my floors aren’t littered with cereal crumbs.
We sit together, wrapped in a luxurious velour blanket on the balcony and look out over the sparkling city night.
We talk of our hopes and dreams. We make plans.
At that moment, there is no place I’d rather be.