I am a creature of eclectic interests, a dabbler in a variety of hobbies and creative pursuits, a former traveler who now enjoys armchair adventures more than the real thing, and a strong believer in reinventing oneself and one’s life at every opportunity.
When I daydream, I sometimes imagine what my life would have been like if I’d taken a different path somewhere along the way. Say, when I was a child and wanted to be a ballerina and my mom signed me up for tap dance lessons.
I didn’t have my heart in tap, I was not very good at it, and the little girl next to me in line kept kicking me in the rear end as we tap-kicked our way across the stage during a recital. So there I was, an unhappy little tapper in shiny, short purple farmer overalls and a straw hat, clumping my way through Turkey in the Straw or some such routine when all I really wanted to do was point and touch, do a battement tendu, and arabesque, all in my white tights, tutu and crown.
I showed them. I quit.
Maybe, instead of being an unhappy little tapper who gave up after a few months, I should have said, “Mom, I don’t like tap dancing so much, but I really would like to be a ballerina.”
Okay, don’t imagine. Stop laughing and let me have my moment. This is my alternate universe.
I am thin and graceful. I practice for hours and hours a day. I am a prima ballerina in a famous dance company, a ballerina so talented I bring teary audiences to their feet when I dance the part of Odette in Swan Lake.
But here’s where my alternate universe stalls.
To accomplish a dream so huge, a person must become committed to the goal at an early age and never lose focus. The grueling routine; the whole body pain; the foot injuries; the loneliness because there’s no time for people, no time for love. The commitment without guarantee. The risk of failure, of disappointment. All for the tiniest chance of becoming the best ballerina in the world, for becoming a star. Nothing is more important than the dream.
That’s the part that doesn’t sound so attractive. Besides, I’ve had chubby ankles and bad knees my whole life, I’m clumsy and fall down a lot, and….wow, I’m sabotaging my own alternate universe here.
So Pat’s Alternate Universe No. 1 first requires a most convenient leap from being an unhappy tapper directly to successful ballerina with none of that impossible and painful stuff in between. After that, I need a recording of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, a quiet room, a rocking chair, a glass of wine, and a vivid imagination. The music begins. I am Odette.