Do you have alternate lives? Not specific dreams with goals you’re actively pursuing and that are more or less aligned with your current passions, but rather multiple lifestyles and paths you briefly consider once in a while under the shower or when falling asleep—these “eh, what if…” moments that are half pure curiosity, half the grownup version of wondering what it feels like to be Batman or Wonder Woman.
For instance, if I’m translating a document for the Government of Nunavut—happens more often than you’d think in my current life—I can’t help wondering if I’m missing out not living in a massive, sparsely populated Arctic territory. Keep in mind that I find it’s “chilly” when temperatures drop below 20⁰C and that remote communities are my idea of hell—yes, like I said, “alternate lives” are not supposed to be realistic, and most options require probably require an alternate personality as well.
See what I mean? Just a brief “what if…?” moment, a question that will probably be happily left unanswered.
Well, in one of my alternative lives, I settle in a small town. There are about a hundred of us in the few streets around what we call the “centre.” Once in a while, we bump into each other at the bakery or at the bar/newsagent/grocery store and we have short, meaningful conversations. The rest of the time, I’m writing and enjoying a stress-free life in my cozy home. Somehow, I manage to make a living, but frankly, I don’t need much since I’m pretty self-sufficient and housing is dirt cheap—besides, shopping malls are supermarkets are far, if I need eggs, I just have a little chat with my backyard chickens.
I never lock the front door. I kind of know what’s going on in the world because once in a while I read the news, but whatever is happening is happening far, far away. Most days look exactly the same and it makes me happy. This pandemic thingy? Terrible, must be tricky in the city! Wars? Yeah, we had one back in 1512, awful.
I started picturing an alternate life as soon as I got off the car in Tiffauges. Cute town, lovely streets—so quiet, so quaint!
At one point, I escaped from the castle we were visiting for a long afternoon walk through the town—took about two minutes—and the countryside around—could have gotten lost.
I was that close to ask the price of the house down the path, on the left, the one with the red door and the “for sale” sign.
But when we left at 7 p.m. and the town was still dead quiet, I realized this life could also be my worst nightmare. The house could feel cozy but lonely without city sounds I’m used to. I like knowing there are thousands of perfect strangers around me shopping, eating, drinking, having weird conversations and funny exchanges I can’t help eavesdropping on. I like taking buses, subways, trains and planes easily if I feel like going places.
Okay, so just yet another alternate life I’m not going to live—and I’m okay with it.