I live in a perfect world, where clocks never stop, traffic never snarls, and pants never, ever get holes in them. I wake up to a neat house each morning, eat my Kashi in a clean bowl, read the newspaper, complete sudoku without cheating, and let my kitty in and out only once. The washing machine never jams, the dryer never stops spinning and there is always hot water. My car starts every time I place the key in the ignition, my phone only rings when it’s convenient and no one comes to the door unexpected. Even if they did, that would be fine because my hair is always in order and I never smell funny, not even when I tumble, eyes half-shut and jammies still warm, from bed. Neighbors stop to say hello, but only when I have the time, and inclination, to talk. Clients arrive on schedule, as do I, and doctors see me within 10 minutes of my scheduled consultation, during which time I am not at all disgusted by climbing onto and off of the enormous, porcelain-white scale with numbers so large Mr. Magoo could read them from 15 feet.
Hang on, I think something just exploded in my head. Do you hear that ringing? And what’s that cloud of blue dust? Let me check my manual…
Yes, it’s just as I thought; I exceeded my brain’s capacity for delusion. That last bit about the scale must have put me over my daily limit. Way over. Because, as you may have guessed, I don’t actually live in a perfect world. I live in an average world. Things are not tidy and clear. They are sticky and snarly and surprising. I just act like I live in that other place. I do indeed wake up each morning. And I do eat my Kashi in a clean bowl with the newspaper spread before me. That, however, is where the resemblance ends. Because, there’s
- the faculty or activity of imagining things, esp. things that are impossible or improbable
- the product of this faculty or activity
- a fanciful mental image, typically one on which a person dwells at length or repeatedly and which reflects their conscious or unconscious wishes (my personal favorite!)
and then there’s
- the state or quality of having existence or substance
- a thing that is actually experienced or seen, esp. when this is grim or problematic (hahaha!)
- the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them
I’m a big fan of both words/worlds, as each has it’s own charm. Fantasy (mine, I obviously can’t speak for yours) is exciting, dangerous without being threatening, and, often, colorful. Reality (also mine), on the other hand, is solid, finite, and, often, reassuring. As number 2 above would suggest, however, reality has its downsides. I mean, existence is all well and good, but toss “grim and problematic” into the mix and it’s suddenly not so rosy. Maybe that’s why I tend to prefer Neil Gaimen to Stephen Hawking (though Hawking is way cool, too.)
Still, I’m not a total dreamer. I do surface from my subconscious (read: delusional place of cute puppies and a nest of chickadees in every tree) from time to time–mostly to see what’s for dinner, but occasionally to make an attempt at writing (living) from/in a state that remotely approaches nonfiction. This isn’t really a problem, as I’ve lived my entire life on this earth flopping between various states of being, not all of them as clear cut as fantasy and reality. The fun starts when I am not allowed to surface on my own but am instead jerked, hastily and unceremoniously, from that lovely, warm refuge where everything runs and goes and happens on schedule and with comforting regularity and then tossed into the slightly more foreboding, infinitely cooler pit of chaotic happenstance.
For instance, last Friday I had an appointment with my best client, a man with whom I’ve worked for the past six years on various projects. He is an angel. A LOM with about 8 hairs on his head and eyebrows that spring in 13 directions. He’s also amazingly well-spoken, Oxford educated, and professionally/politically/socially successful. All of which render me damn near speechless every time we get together. To say I need to be on my toes for our meetings is a vast and unfortunate understatement. Usually, I start stressing about a week in advance. Last week was no different. At least not until he left a message suggesting we meet uptown at the City Club. Two things: I hate driving uptown, and I’ve never stepped foot in any place that ended in “Club.” Stress doesn’t come close to describing what went on in my head as I dialed his number and heard myself say, “Perfect! I’ll see you then.”
Friday morning came. I set my alarm for 8:30 for a 12:30 appointment. Pretending I wasn’t nervous about driving uptown and didn’t feel like throwing up at the idea of having to act ladylike and professional, I relished the crunch of my oaty ohs, read the paper from inky cover to inky cover, worked the puzzle without cheating, and called my daughter, all with due diligence. (I also let the cat in and out about a hundred times, but we won’t go there.) So steeped was I in the fantasy of not being anxious, I decided I had time to clean the not-so-neat kitchen, which led to scrubbing the also not-so-neat bathroom, and straightening my seasonally confused closet. Then, remembering I hadn’t printed directions to the Club, I sat down at my computer, checked facebook and email and only then googled places where people not me eat lunch. At 11:15, I noticed the time. 11:15! RUNNING up the steps, I jumped in the shower, scrubbed, shaved and rinsed all the important parts, jumped back out and dried my hair.
Now, this is the point where I often slip from my reverie. I can, on any given day, spend upwards of 15 minutes trying to decide which of my unsuitable garments to place upon my equally unsuitable frame. But Friday, the reverie held. My favorite gray sweater was clean, my red shell had just arrived from the hotel in Chicago (where I had inadvertently left it behind), and my black pants–the ones I hadn’t worn in about 5 months–still fit. I pulled my shoes on, poked earrings into my lobes and headed out the door, grabbing keys, purse, and directions in one swipe.
Climbing into the car, I checked the time. 11:45. Perfect. I had 45 minutes to get uptown, get lost, call my husband, get more directions, get found, and find Sydnor. Phew. I pushed the key into the ignition, took a few deep breaths to center myself, and reached for the seatbelt.
That’s when I saw it. There, in my lap, south of my naval, northeast of my thigh…
to be continued.