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My secret life

Do you have a secret life? I’m not talking about hidden fetishes or anything. Just sort of a mental “what if” game.

I do.

Not very often, maybe once or twice a year, I imagine the life I might have lead under different circumstances. I can’t, honestly, imagine what circumstances since my life has never ever looked even remotely like this. But…

I imagine living, alone with a dog or a cat, in a small, colorful space. Sometimes a charming little apartment in Harvard,  most often a cottage or small house in some tiny college town. Hanover, NH, perhaps. The space is always very brightly decorated and just slightly cluttered with lots of books and chintz. I’m middle aged and wearing long earth toned skirts and sturdy walking boots and brightly knit cardigans that come past my hip. My slightly graying hair in a long braid. I wear a gardening hat, often. Riding a bicycle and giving cookies to children.  Working at a local bookstore or as a writer. There are tea cozies and a neatly trimmed garden. Perhaps I paint or knit or quilt.

This is patently ridiculous, naturally. I never ever wear skirts. I loathe chintz. I never braided my hair when it was long. I can’t keep a spider plant alive for four months together and my sweaters are never cardigans. Living quietly is something I’m singularly unsuited for — I’ve jumped out of airplanes and had some very adventurous sex. I do not have a tea cozy and can’t fathom why anyone would want one, much less a woman living alone.

And why for the love of God would I imagine myself alone?

It’s all very Victorian, very British, which I didn’t really realize until I typed it all out. The Victorian spinster, maybe fin-de-sicle. I’d be in danger of stumbling upon corpses and forced into solving mysteries if I lived like that. The mysteries would have cutsie little themes and punny titles. I’d be a cozy character, for heaven’s sake.

But I think, when I think about it, that I probably imagine this very British, very lonely, very Victorian lifestyle as a retreat. My life is so not my own and this other self I imagine, this not!Amanda has space and quiet. Breathing room. Probably, as silly as it seems, that’s why she seems so alone in my mind. I could do with a little aloneness.

Of course, it may also be because I’m moderately certain I was Beatrix Potter in a former life.

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Categories: books, City mama
  1. March 21, 2008 at 3:20 am

    I have a similar fantasy. It’s the peace and quiet and no one demanding anything from me. I don’t usually think of it as an alternate life as much as “future retirement” or something. I paint and write and drink tea and do yoga and get massages and listen to the ocean and soothing music.

    It’s obvious why I fantasize being alone – it’s the snoring. The children are one thing, but they grow up. It seem ever more likely the snoring will only get worse. Perhaps we can share a living room but I want my own damn bedroom for sure.

    I lived alone for around 6 years – it’s an acquired taste – but then it’s freaking delicious. I totally get why you long for it.

  2. March 21, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    Oh god, yes. Sadly, they often involve another life partner than the one I’ve chosen…which doesn’t mean I’ve regretted marrying the man I did…I just wonder if I would have been “able” to pursue my life path differently with another personality. But of course, placing my ability to Do What I Want on someone else is a cop-out and not particularly mature. Jeesh, I need to get off the web and into my therapist’s chair, don’t I? And this wasn’t quite what you were talking about in your post. /shutting up now

  3. March 22, 2008 at 1:57 am

    It’s great that you’ve explored this so much and had the courage to post it. I used to have a secret life prior to my son’s birth but haven’t given it much thought recently. It was never as fully explored as yours but perhaps it’s time to revisit and let it grow in definition.

  4. Anon
    March 22, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    I love to drive my Saturn with really loud rap music or heavy metal and sing along. I like to think of myself as In Cognito, that no one would know that I was a mom or grad student. Sometimes I fantasize about being either a party-girl again or of becoming a lesbian!! Weird, but true. Interestingly, your fantasy really appeals to me too. I think this is all totally normal and even healthy. It helps us be aware of what we might need more of (alone time, quiet time for you maybe; drinking and “hot woman” time for me). And i think being aware of how one’s life is different than others’ lives helps us understand others or even get a sense of how people can live in so many different ways and still be happy.

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