Writer’s Workshop: Imagine there is another ‘you’, living in a parallel universe. What would you choose for your ‘other’ life.
As I fall back into the winding paths of my memory, I realize there is not a time I can recall that I did not have some working idea of what I WOULD BE DOING, if only something was different.
If I was not just a four year old little girl… I would wear high heels, carry a purse, and drive. Everywhere.
But then I would not have been home long enough to kick off my shoes and run barefoot through the woods with my brothers, wearing our uncle’s old army fatigues, while we pretended to be famous explorers discovering new worlds and great adventures millions of miles away from home – until lunch time that is.
If I was not missing my front tooth in seventh grade from a nasty fall I took over summer break… I would be less awkward, and maybe feel beautiful.
But then I would not have been forced to set aside my vanity during those impressionable years of youth and accept myself as is, missing tooth and all, while my dentist carefully put my face and my smile back together again.
If I was not awkwardly tall for my age throughout my childhood and adolescence… I would not feel like a lumbering giant, but a dainty slip of a girl.
But then I would not have learned the value of standing straight and confident, embracing the height I was given – plus, being a slip is overrated.
If I was not attending an inner-city high school that terrified me every single day… I would not have to worry about making myself invisible.
But then I would not have had the opportunity to experience the receiving end of prejudice, or the friendships you can find in the midst of adversity and differences. I also would not have gained a full understanding of Ebonics or been accepted by my athletic teammates. “You tan, girl, not white.” Alright then.
If I had more money during college… I would have transferred universities and studied abroad.
But then I would not have met my beautiful husband whom I love more than my own life. My partner, my lover, my friend. The one I want to share every moment of this life with, and hopefully the next.
If I was less determined… I would have less to prove.
But then I would have given up on life at the juncture of my first failure. Despair setting in like a lead weight, pressing on my chest until I screamed – Fine! I won’t try, ever again.
If I was not having to work at a job I disliked so my boy could finish his medical training… I would go back to school.
But then I would not have had to pause, wait, and think about what I really wanted out of life. I would be an attorney. I would be in a suit. I would be in a cubicle. And I would be stuck. I would not have lingered long enough to realize that other things fill me up, not just achieving what I think the world expects of me.
If I was not always scared… I would have finished writing my book long ago.
But then I would not take my time to really know my characters, my story, my purpose. Because the fear is what drives me yet helps me take caution. And the fear is what I conquer with the thrill of exhilaration when I write one more page.
If I was more this or that… I would be anything I could imagine.
But then I realize the “this or that” is really quite simple. It is, in fact, HOPE. And hope is what helps us carry on. So in a way, hope is my parallel self and what lends me a hand when I feel I cannot take another step in the harsh reality of my day to day life. Just like the continual tide in the sea, I can rest assured in the fact that my hope will ebb and flow as the years go by. Even as my hopes, my dreams, my confidence swirls away into the murky abyss of the ocean, I can know that – given time – NEW hopes and dreams will come swimming back to me. Fresh and new. Ready to gather me in their foamy arms as the sea spray kisses me at the crease of my eyelid. In that moment, my parallel becomes my reality because I am content with where I am. But I suppose that is what hope is for. To keep us moving forward and looking to the future with more than just a grimace or a sigh. Hope for things to come. That is my parallel me.