“Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut
What would you do if you found yourself in the middle of your life, with no “real” responsibilities? If you had some money saved and could take a little break to follow a dream? I call this “Alternate Universe,” and my fantasy goes as such, with no filter, because I don’t care about filters now that I’m 50. Except for selfies, of course.
First, there is no snow in Alternate Universe. Yes, snow is nice. Snow happens. But this is my Alternate Universe not yours, so my rules, okay? Also, my clothes fit perfectly, (they’re actually a little loose if truth be told). I don’t have any aches or pains, and my teeth are sparkling white. They freaking gleam and twinkle when I flash a happy smile, which is often, because, you know, Alternate Universe.
I feel young, healthy, and good in my own skin.
In this magical place, I’ve simply unloaded. I’ve sold or donated almost every stagnant thing I own – all the stuff that doesn’t serve me. The items that are not bequeathed to others are in boxes waiting to be sorted down at Goodwill. They are in shelters, churches, and women’s centers. Nothing useful is wasted during the purging process, I assure you. The “pretty and fun to look at” collections are gone. My vintage cocktail shakers. my colorful 50’s tablecloths, my Fire-King, Pyrex, milk glass, artwork, cast iron elephant bookends, and all my millions of books…gone, gone, gone. They no longer clutter my existence with their shelved, dormant “prettiness.”
Alternate Universe does include my Buddha, my yoga mat, and my little salt lamp, though. There are just some things I can’t live without.
I’ve also neatly packed the following:
Five joints, or “vape pens” or whatever the kids are calling them these days. Five bottles of assorted red wine, including a nice Malbec, and my holiday stash of Apothic Inferno. A pair of cut-off shorts, leopard print cat’s eye sunglasses, red lipstick, a toothbrush, flip flops, a cozy cardigan sweater, two pairs of jeans, three t-shirts, yoga pants, sneakers, four different perfumes, a camera, a flashlight, and a short, black, cotton, v-neck dress for those raucous “rock and roll jukebox nights” at various small town dive bars I plan to frequent.
A bathing suit for spontaneous swimming! One ugly lawn chair/ottoman combo, a small metal side table, three succulents in adorable pots, $1200 cash, two emergency credit cards (with big limits and zero balances), four books, my journal, my lap-top, a gas card, and a stash of lower-tier snack treats, like ring-dings, Ramen noodles, and several canisters of assorted Pringles. Coffee! A killer playlist peppered with Southern Rock classics! Dry shampoo!
Alternate Universe is about minimalism, but the perfumes are important.
Upon gathering “personal necessities,” and pairing things down, I have obtained a modest but absolutely adorable vintage camper, and I’ve jacked it up with all the stuff I like. Little twinkly solar lights, a cooler filled with Fireball and Blue Moon, a fishing pole (just because), an obnoxiously large white swan blow up float, hiking boots, and my beloved bike. Yes, the one with the basket. The basket that will safely transport grapes, crackers, wedges of sharp cheddar, and bags of Swedish fish. It is imperative that these snacks be available should I feel the need to stop and sit “for a spell” beneath the cool comfort of a beautiful tree.
In Alternate Universe, I will buy, sell, and barter my way across the country. When my money runs out I will “make do” with karaoke contest winnings, and a simple, yet profound “help Kim follow her dream” go fund me page. My bohemian travel journey blog (“Kalamity Kim”) will be so damn entertaining it’ll be worth the $5 bucks you would surely throw in just to keep me going. Come on. I’d do it for you. You could even go old school and wire a little something to me Western Union style. Think of how fun that would be for both of us! I promise there will be weird photos in front of cacti and giant balls of yarn. I will not simply “stand there.” You know me.
When I get to Alaska, I’ll call everyone. Yes, I will “get to Alaska.”
It is entirely possible that you are now scratching your head, asking questions. Is Alternate Universe about running away? Maybe. But I prefer to think of it as running “toward” instead. Toward adventure and my true essence, which I believe to be a resourceful, vagabond gypsy midnight rider, (if you want to know the truth). I would like to glean clarity from immersive experiences. I know I can’t drop everything and never look back, but it’s becoming more difficult to ignore the tempting pull of what I think could be the best thing I ever did in my life (aside from my magnificent babies, of course). It’s becoming way too easy to post inspirational quotes without following through, and that makes me feel like a poser. Alternate Universe is a dream, yes, but it’s also a promise.
I’m growing tired of not enjoying the freedom-loving things my soul craves. Can you relate? Alternate Universe might be the place where I finally finish the three novels I’ve started, the place where epiphanies explode like fireworks inside my head. Perhaps I’ll meet weirdly interesting people who challenge my perspective about this country, and the world we share. It could be where I face a few setbacks that require a bit of plucky critical thinking. Maybe I’ll come home with some stories to tell my grandchildren, or more than likely, a few I’ll take to my grave.
Alternate Universe might be the place where I can live before I run out of the energy required for living, before I am filled to the brim with regrets over what I should have done, without apology, “long ago,” when I had the chance. I know this is a hopeful, romantic notion, but honestly, what’s so bad about hope and romance?
I can feel myself moving closer to Alternate Universe, and while it is still very much in its infancy, consider this declaration my planted seed of truth. ‘The Best of Lynyrd Skynyrd’ is already cued up, just waiting to be blasted as I hastily back down my driveway, knocking over my mailbox in what can only be described as Defiance Performance Art.
Screw the rules!
I think I might have to run to keep from hiding. And when I have one more silver dollar left, I promise I’ll come home.