Friday, August 22, 2003

Today, I have this intense urge to rewrite myself. I have a cold and an accompanying headache, I am drifting aimlessly in a lull during the (rather intense) preparations for the defense, I am broke after buying two new pairs of glasses for my son (yes, he needs two, or we'll all be spending half an hour every morning finding them) and it's three weeks until next payday. I need a new passport, which isn't all that expensive in itself. But because the US has changed their visa rules it has to be machine readable, which means I have to go to Oslo or Bergen to get it, as little places like Volda don't have the machinery to produce those passports just yet - and the ticket to Oslo is not insubstantial. It's not exactly just around the corner. So who would I be if I could rewrite myself?

I think I'd be an egoist. I'd be single. I'd live in a city, not neccessarily in Norway. I'd make enough money to pay for the appartment (small, but elegant and always tidy) and the student-loan and still have a little left over, so I'd probably not be an academic. A journalist perhaps. It's probably what I'd be if I hadn't needed a steady income immediately after I finished my main subject. I write well, I learn quickly, people trust me and talk to me, and I do quick and thorough research. I am also a passable photographer. Yeah, probably a journalist in one of the medium to large papers. Not the hot-shot front page one, but the one who could always be relied on to deliver the bread and butter of the paper. And the culture-stuff, the reviews, not the gossip. I don't do gossip well.

I'd have a mixed group of more or less steady lovers. Other single people like me, who didn't need a close monogamous relationships, but would prefer comfortable friendships and civilised passion at appropriate times. I'd meet them in cafés and we'd go to movies, plays and exhibitions together. Once in a while I'd go with them on vacations. Most of my travelling I would do alone. There would be herbs in pots on the tiny balcony outside my livingroom, and the livingroom would be a shared work and leisure space. The guestroom would double as a room where I could paint, sew or play around with the different crafts projects that only my family and close friends knew about. There wouldn't be too much time for this, because I'd be busy at work and busy with my friends. That's why it would be so important not to have to clean up every time I had started something.

When I didn't get engaged in deep cultural discussions with my cultured little circle of friends, do creative crafts projects, write important, meaningful articles and travel to new and interesting places, I'd be writing the big novel. You know, not Bridget Jones, but the other one. The one that would connect all the dots for the reader, the one that would make meaning emerge from the shallow waters of modern life. The one that would explain all the small frustrations, give them a place in the larger image of the world, and connect our individual lives into the collective consciousness. And it would be a wonderful novel. Each paragraph would be a gift or verbal delight, fresh, fluid, changing but clear. Each chapter would brings a new realisation. And they would drip from the tips of my fingers uninterrupted, in that organised, uncomplicated flow which would be my life.

Problem is - I think this rewrite of myself is a lot more boring than the life I live. There would be none of the glaring inconsistencies that fill my reality. Everything happens in a kind of flat, comfortable twilight (with fuzzy filter for dream-like effects), I see no bright peeks and no deep dark abysses. I think if I dare write the unedited version of my life when I reach old age, the woman who writes that book will be a much more interesting person than the other one, the one I'd like to be right now. And she, the single one, probably dreams about being me, love, pain, insecurity, ambition, responsibility, spent paycheck and all.

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