Monday, March 26, 2007

Alternative Universes

People have commented for years about my upbeat attitude. I am an optimist - I can see a silver lining where none seem to exist. I had a boyfriend break up with me once because he needed to brood occasionally, and I couldn't help but cheer him up!

Part of my optimism, I think, is my belief in alternative universes. You know the old science fiction idea: Bob in universe A goes to school and gets his degree in accounting, becomes a CPA, marries Ann from the tax department and they have 2.3 kids; Bob in universe B buys a Harley Davidson, follows the Grateful Dead around the country, in essence lives out the daydream of straight-laced Bob over in universe A.

Making decisions is easier if you believe that somewhere, some time, you get to make more than one choice. Can't decide between two courses of action? It might help if you believed that choosing one action doesn't necessarily mean you never ever get to try the other.

For instance, I had the chance when I was much younger to form a singing group, called Chansons d'Amour, and go on tour. How tempting! After much deliberation, I turned the offer down, opting to work, get married, have a family, etc. But what if another me in another universe said yes? She would have gone on the road, singing and traveling. Would she have made it big? Would she end up singing cabaret tunes in a dimly-lit lounge, growing older alone? Or something in between? No one will ever know (at least in this universe), but it's nice to think I would have been a hit.

The point is this: Very few decisions in our lives require the energy and emotion we seem to pour into them. Instead of asking ourselves, "What if I had done that instead?" delight in imagining it all - the good and the bad. Imagine that somewhere another You chose the red Camaro instead of the blue minvan, or that you ran for office instead of signing up for the volleyball league. And if you can see yourself doing whatever it is that you're imaging...couldn't you do it here, now, in this universe?

Alternative universes are fun to imagine and let me relax in some of my decision-making, but they can never be an excuse for taking the easy road in life. Why should I let my alternative self have all the fun?

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

My Temporary Daughter

I have a son - 23 years old, dangerously handsome, wickedly funny, amazingly intelligent, and still single. I thought our family was complete and perfect. Then a few weeks ago my niece, Emily, moved in for the semester as she completes an internship in the area. Now I have a daughter, for the time being, and it's great!

Emily is 24 years old and about to graduate with a degree in Communications...hmmmm, just like me. She's bubbly and excited about life in general, which keeps my mood light. She's outgoing and friendly, generous with her time and anything else she has to give. She's also naturally blond and athletic - my antithesis.

Suddenly I have someone to do things with. For instance, shopping. I've never shopped for sport, as do some of my friends. Find something that fits, buy two. Otherwise, shopping for clothing is a chore - so few things fit me, a short, stubby woman with actual curves.

However, I can smell a bargain! So I've been hitting the sales, dragging Em along with me. It's been fun to find things for her. We have similar tastes, unlike her mother and sister. I encourage her to try fun styles, like gauchos and boots. It's fun, too, to have someone with whom to share the thrill of the hunt - like when I scored turquoise lace-trimmed camisoles, in our sizes, for $4 each. We high-fived and made plans to return for more bargains. My husband, on the other hand, says, "That's nice," but is probably thinking, "And did you really need another camisole?"

Emily also met a young man her first week here, the son of a co-worker. They hit it off immediately and are virtually inseparable. And although I'm not her mom, I find myself working hard not to give unsolicited advice and cautions. Of course, I'll have to face my sister at some point, so I'd better keep tabs on the relationship. Well, we all have to make our mistakes and find our own way in life. Auntie will be there with a shoulder to cry on and a new sale to hit if/when things turn sour.

So I find I like being an Auntie/mom figure. I'll be sad when Em goes home to her "real" family. But she's already talking about moving to this area after graduation, so maybe I'll have a longer-term temporary daughter. What fun!