In a parallel universe, at this very moment, I am sipping coffee on my front porch. On a picturesque street, lined with maples and oaks, an elderly gentleman rides his bike by me and waves, shouting out, “Hello, Miss Kristine. Mighty fine day, isn’t it?”
I wave back and smile, luxuriating in my book and the warm liquid burn of fresh roasted coffee as it runs down my throat.
My children are at school after a near perfect breakfast of hearty pancakes and crisp bacon. Later, we will gather at the dinner table for homemade stew and biscuits. They will complain, as usual, about the roasted brussel sprouts on their plates. Homemade caramel cake awaits for dessert because in this life, my Pinterest file does not bulge with untested recipes—they are actually made and made often. We will talk about our days at the dinner table, unhurriedly, because in this town of ours—there is no rush. Hustle and bustle means more than two cars at the light on Main Street.
In this parallel life, my husband picks up the eco-friendly dry cleaning, and my cleaning woman puts fear into the heart of dust bunnies everywhere. I write, most days. But first, I am up at 5:30 a.m. every morning—because, of course, in this lifetime I am an early bird. I meditate. I run by the river. I commune with the deer, the swallows, the bunnies up at the crack of dawn.
I know how to say “no” early and often in this life, so my patience is rarely worn thin. This version of me is unfamiliar with the clamor of a video conference via laptop, as the e-mail pings pile up, the texts come fast and furious, and the cell phone rings. This version of myself is familiar with the feeling of being well rested and glowing with the energy true self-care brings.
Friday night is family night. Pizza at the parlor, followed by community theater or a flick in the park. We know most of the townspeople, so my kids can’t really get away with much even when out from under my watchful eye.
My husband can rock a Harvard sweatshirt like nobody’s business and I love that he wears it with old-school navy sweatpants. You know the kind—with elastic around the bottom, circa 1984. He sports these while fixing the arbor that just won’t stop tilting under the weight of the clematis we planted years ago, when we first moved into this house.
At night, as we sit on the porch with a smoky cab, I feel the satisfying heft of the glass in my hand. We listen to the crickets. The haunting sound of the loons interrupts our reverie. And we listen to our boys arguing back and forth from their beds upstairs, the ways boys do—trying to one-up each other on every topic known to man.
As we open the porch screen door to head up to bed, it squeaks reassuringly—a squeak we keep so we know when the boys are up to something. I fall asleep in this man’s arms—a man I know so well–comforted by the sound of his breathing and the sure knowledge that while what we have created is not permanent (nothing is), it is at least solid. Oh so solid.
In a life that has been less than ordinary over the past few years, I sometimes long for ordinary. Even though I know ordinary might bore me as a steady diet, the allure of a less than manic schedule, the comfort of a partner to lean on, the predictable nature of a day that begins and ends on a front porch rocking chair—on the craziest of days, this alternative life sounds lovely.
I am sure my alter ego in this alternative life is writing a similar blog at this very moment, wishing for a fast-paced life in which she calls the shots, does the corporate gig, lives and plays in a big city. A life in which she wonders what will happen next.
I’d love to be able to sit on her front porch and tell her over morning coffee. If only I knew what to say.