Okay, first of all, I would have been born into WAY MORE MONEY.
Not saying that it makes the person,
but, Christ, it makes things a lot easier
when you need to wear cool clothes to sixth-grade birthday parties
and when you want to merely open the fridge and get a snack.
As for my family,
they could stay more or less the same, I guess.
My dad, having died when I was very young,
is pretty much a cipher to me anyway.
I guess in this world he doesn’t die of cancer
in the small blue bedroom that’s always too cold in winter
because it was a poorly insulated addition to the house.
But I digress…
In this world, he finds his fortune early.
And because we have WAY MORE MONEY,
Mom has more confidence and achieves her full potential
because she doesn’t have the worries of a widow with no college degree or
relevant job experience.
And we sure as hell would be in a more glamorous place
than Northwest Indiana.
Ideally, we would be able to locate it on a map
but would never have heard of it otherwise.
I’m not too picky where the alt-Steigers wind up.
My brother prefers California,
but I think I would have made a better New Yorker.
Because we have WAY MORE MONEY,
My education is top-notch.
Prep schools and ivy walls
and fellow students actually like me
without my having to sacrifice too much of my integrity.
And I get that Rhodes scholarship
so I can study at Cambridge for…however long people do that.
Then I’ll jet around Europe for a while,
getting jobs in London, Paris, Berlin, and Barcelona,
speaking all the languages fluently
and knowing the cities like their respective locals.
I will worry my parents by living in Istanbul for six months on a whim,
but it all turns out fine.
And eventually, I decide to become a writer,
but in this world, it’s effortless,
and I already know artists and intellectuals of great renown,
so I hobnob among them without awkwardness.
And I receive big book awards
and sign copies of my work for admiring college students.
And I’m not an asshole or anything—
people always say how nice I am to talk to
and how interesting.
And I work at some prestigious university
on a beautiful, pastoral campus,
and I teach creative writing for like 90 minutes
once or twice a week
and have TAs actually read the students’ work
because I’m there mostly to write and be famous
And I’ll have the perfect marriage, of course.
A true intellectual partnership,
and he does all the chores.
Probably no one famous or, God forbid, some egotistical English professor,
just someone kind
who reads my stuff but doesn’t criticize
and who’s handsome with a good sense of humor
and likes to travel.
And I’d be fine with marrying Matt in this new
alternative world where I have WAY MORE MONEY.
But I’m not really sure how we’d wind up together
if I never lived in Northwest Indiana
and wasn’t introduced to him at 17
by Nick and Nancy and what’s-her-face…oh yeah, Melanie,
spending the evening at a McDonald’s, putting French fries
on top of our already salty Quarter Pounders with cheese
and driving around Griffith and Merrillville
in his mother’s mini-van.
But I digress…
I’d have the Platonic ideal of companionship, etc. etc.,
and we would have well-behaved and attractive pets
and tasteful, expensive art and furniture.
And maybe I wouldn’t be as connected
to the struggles of the lower classes
and the average working Joe.
I definitely wouldn’t vote Republican at least,
but in this alternate universe, they aren’t even that bad.
And when I die,
peacefully in my sleep,
It will be a notable event,
popping up in peoples’ Facebook feeds
and Twitter accounts
or whatever we’ll all be obsessed with then.
There will be tributes and eulogies
from artists and intellectuals of great renown.
And young women at laptops in coffee shops
will wipe tears from their eyes
when they say,
“She was always my favorite writer.”