We got good news! A. does not have any manner of fatal or dibilitating plague! Big fancy neurologists have narrowed the issue down to things that are treatable and/or manageable and would almost be boring if the symptoms hadn't led us to believe she could be dying. The flood of relief is overwhelming.
We've been in "what if?" mode for months, which has of course had me slithering around in the murky depths of my dark and twisty imagination where I store my encyclopedic knowledge of worst-case scenarios. It's been crunchy, for sure. But whatever, now it's awesome again! My catastrophic What Ifs have receded and my usual mix of oddly specific, fantastical, and generically anxious What Ifs are back on the scene.
Now that I've got my blogging pants back on, I'll use this post to take a more interesting, less emotionally gutting look at the day-to-day What Ifs that populate my imagination. This is only a sampling, mind you. People as cursed with my special combination of anxiety, perfectionism, inappropriate humor and a highly analytic thought process as I am spend vast portions of our existence firmly planted at the bottom of theWhat If rabbit hole. I'll just take you for a quick tour. You don't want to linger there. It's a massive time suck, and it causes muscle tension.
Without further ado, here are my top non "my-spouse-is-probably-dying"-related What ifs:
1. What if my cats could get their shit together?
I don't even know why I torture myself with this one; it's never going to happen. All three felines are irreparably self-involved, destructive to our personal property, and entitled beyond your wildest imagination. They are lazy as hell and contribute zero effort to maintaining the household. Even our black lab licks sticky spots off the floor, and he's not even smart. But what if they got their shit together?
If I could wave a magic wand there would be no further "litter crumbs" on my bedspread, nasty vomit-y hairballs on my dining room table, or mammoth, regenerating hair tumbleweeds on the bathroom tile requiring me to dust-bust several times a day. They would immediately cease whatever inane behavior results in all those weird kibble chunks in the water bowl. Berkeley would stop sleeping on my face and I would no longer fear suffocating in my sleep on a blob of ginger cat ass. Koa would stop hissing at shadows and alienating the dog. And Ashes, by far the most functional pet, would step the hell up with some leadership and stop dicking around on the windowsill all day.
2. What if I won the lottery?
This is a no-fucking-brainer: I would quit my ER job, buy a farmhouse back in Vermont near where I grew up, pay a bunch of people who need work an exorbitant amount of money to restore the shit out of it, and move A. and I over there where I would be a fabulously balanced and joyful writer and mother and she would run a collectibles business. We would also take all our peeps on a swanky vacation somewhere warm and lazy. And I would pay off all the student loans of everyone I know. And I would start a foundation that gives scholarships to rural kids from small schools. And I would buy us the fancy sperm from the expensive sperm bank so I can get pregnant with top-shelf sperm and not the discount sperm from the outlet
And I would buy a summer cottage on a lake or the ocean. And a sailboat. And sailing lessons. And then I would put all the money in an awesome credit union and hide it from our top-shelf kids so they don't know we have it and become all entitled like the goddamned cats. Come to think of it, I need to go buy a Powerball ticket...
3. What if my hair dryer dies?
This just can't happen. It just...can't. I will completely lose my shit.
I have had my hair dryer for almost 12 years. It is missing a piece silver plastic inlay and the air screen on the back falls off about 50% of the time. It blows the exact temperature and speed required by my hair styling approach, and every other dryer I have ever tried is either too strong, too loud, too hot, too weak, too weird to hold, or otherwise woefully inadequate. One of my most gripping irrational fears is that my hair dryer will bite it soon and I will be left alone, unable to achieve appropriate body, fullness and shape. I have tried to prepare for this day by testing other dryers. I have gone window shopping for new units, but I just can't pull the trigger because deep in my heart I know that there is no hair dryer like mine and I will never be satisfied with a lesser appliance. I know I need to cowboy up and steel myself for the day that I have to adjust to an inferior model, but I'm not ready. In fact, I'm getting a stress headache just writing this.
4. What if I had been born in the Olden Days?
Guys, I would have killed it in the Olden Days. No joke.
I was born to milk goats and make quilts. I have the exact combination of rugged individualism, non-nonsense Protestant work ethic, and affinity for DIY that the Olden Days requires. In fact, when I was a kid, I often pretended I was Laura Ingalls Wilder or a member of Massachusetts Bay Colony for days at a time in my head without anyone noticing, even at school. I spent hours pretend chopping pretend wood, pretend spinning yarn from pretend wool, and making pretend stew from the last of the pretend potatoes and onions that we'd had to stretch through the very REAL (this was Northern Vermont IRL) long, cold winter. My family used to have frequent campfires in the summer and I learned to build a quick, perfect fire specifically to enhance my skill set for playing Olden Days. As an adult I have advanced my abilities to include basic gardening, sewing and animal care. Seriously, I would fucking thrive in Olden Days. My people would be warm and fed and no one would succumb to TB or the plague.
Other people would flock to my homestead seeking advice or aid and I would become a leader in my community, helping others to rise above hardship. Like an Olden Days Social Worker. I would also have the best dresses and pantaloons. Duh.
I'd like to think my What If tendencies are exclusively reflective of my creativity, optimism and general strength of imagination, and not also about my anxiety-fueled urgency to "future trip" and predict and plan for every possible outcome in life.
Yeah, I'd like to think that. I'm going to keep thinking that.
Because what if I don't?