Karissa (aka Ashley)

I have a confession to make.

I have an alter ego.

I call her my non-domestic self. Sometimes I call her Ashley. My parents thought about naming me Ashley, but one of them thought it sounded like “a soap opera name.” So Ashley sounds just sly enough to be my alternate self.

See, here’s the thing. I’ve been part of a community of writers for three years now, and I’ve heard lots of stories from women. True stories. There are women who have suffered through a broken marriage and a painful divorce and have come out of it healed and with a new sense of self. There are women who have traveled the world and have been inspired and changed. There are women who have bravely faced discrimination due to their race, sexuality, accent, etc.

I am not one of these women. I am a woman who lives day in and day out in the middle of domesticity. Yes, I am a teacher, so I have a career. But I am still ultimately a family woman. A wife. A mother. A daughter. A cook. A housekeeper. A toy picker-upper. A diaper changer. A lover. A laundry folder. An appointment maker. A boo-boo kisser. A grocery shopper. Etc. Etc.

And I love being all those things. I do. But every now and then, my alter ego (aka Ashley) comes out and gives me a commentary on what my life would be like if I weren’t so . . . domestic.

If I didn’t have a family to feed, I’d eat a bowl of cereal for supper every night.

If I didn’t have kids to pick up at daycare, I’d go to the gym after work every day.

If I didn’t have a family to spend my money on, I could afford to live in a cool old-but-refurbished home in East Nashville.

I could go live in Singapore – or Italy – or Thailand – for a couple of years.

And so on.

And so forth.

One of my writer friends and I have talked about how we are women who stay. We raise families. We love husbands. We don’t go off to the beach or Europe on a soul-search. We have to do our soul-searching in the midst of the chaos of family life. I guess sometimes that search leads me to my imaginary place where the chaos is nonexistent and I selfishly get whatever I want.

In the end, my real self tells my alter ego, “Shut up. I have to go cook supper.” And that is that.

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