In the parallel dimension of my life, I get the fairytale ending I’ve always wanted. There’s a world where I become comfortable in my skin at an earlier age and stop worrying so much about schoolwork and grades. It’s a world where I’m invited to high school parties and I’m not forgotten because I don’t drink. I’m more reckless in this world, but in a responsible way. A little risk mixed with the same academic achievements.
There’s a world where I leave my first boyfriend the moment he raises his voice at me and I don’t give him the chance to abuse me for three more years. It’s a world where I understand my worth and raise my voice right back, instead of suffering in silence.
There’s a world where my cats live forever, and I don’t have to watch them grow old and grey. They play outdoors during the day and come inside to sleep by my side at night, and I never have an empty bed.
There’s a world where I have a date to my senior prom and don’t have to roam the dance floor alone, and where the makeup artist doesn’t paint my face to the point where I’m unrecognizable. There’s a world where I get a slow dance with the boy I like and I’m crowned prom queen (because, embarrassingly enough, I’ve always dreamt of that).
There’s a world where I’m a better cook and I don’t have to live on the same three meals every week. It’s a world where I make the most extravagant vegetarian meals and make it look effortless. It’s also a world where I’m good at yoga and I’m capable of doing a handstand.
There’s a world where my grandfather never has a stroke, never loses the feeling in half of his body, and never has to relearn how to speak. He never becomes a faded version of the charismatic, loud man he once was, and my grandmother never has to say goodbye to him after 50 years of marriage.
There’s a world where Jack and I meet at a later moment in our lives, a moment when we are both on the same path and have the same visions. It’s a world where my heart doesn’t break at the mention of his name. It’s a world where the man I was ready to marry doesn’t leave me out of the blue after a year of happiness. There’s a world where he stays, and I get my fairytale ending.
Or maybe it’s a world where I never meet him at all. I never fall for his ocean blue eyes and bleach blonde hair and his blinding charm. There’s a world where he’s never mine and I’m never his, and I’m okay with that.
There’s a world where the pandemic doesn’t happen, and I get to finish my junior year in Newport. It’s a world where I’m not stuck inside on my 21st birthday ironically drinking Corona and wishing I could just go outside. It’s a world where I’m not stuck inside again on my 22nd birthday and I throw the party I’ve always wanted.
In this world I’m me, but the pieces of my life don’t fall into place at such an unsteady rate. I can afford all the Dunkin’ iced coffee I want. I find my dream job right out of college. I smile at strangers on the street because I don’t have to wear a mask everywhere. There’s a world where my growth is a little less crooked, and I’m content.