17 March 1999

I want to live in the middle of the country with nobody around but my husband and me and sixteen dogs and cats. We would have a log cabin and we would go into town once a month for food and look at people like they were lost creatures from the other side of the world.

I want to live in a loft in the middle of the French Quarter, surrounded by sin and bourbon. I want to lean out my window on the corner of Rue Iberville and shout at my Catholic neighbors who won't shut up even when it's 3 AM and even the tourists have gone to bed. Hanging my legs off my second-story balcony, I would watch Southern Decadence weekend go on around me, in the waning hours of the steamy summer in the city of sin.

I want to huddle under an overhang at a train station in the middle of London with a backpack on one side of me and a flop-eared dog on the other. My transient friends from Holland and I would furtively pass around a joint to pass the time while we waited for our train. I would walk into the middle of London with them and feel the burr and hum of the city around my ears, and I would listen to Big Ben chime at noon and think about all the Silicon Valley yuppies just waking up to their alarm clocks.

I want to stand on the bottom of the world, up to my knees in snow, and marvel at the crystal beauty of the Antarctic Circle. I would look up at the sky and throw my arms out to embrace the entire planet from where I stood beneath it, like Atlas reversed. I want to shout across plains and glaciers just to hear my voice echo and come back to me, high and lonely.

I want to live in an artist's ghetto in the middle of Paris, eking out a living by taking a bike courier or waitress or coffee server job. My friends would come over and hold impromptu critique sessions of my paintings, which would be piled on top of each other in my tiny apartment, awaiting my big break. We would sit on my second-hand futon, wearing black and reciting poetry to each other through the haze of suspicious smoke emanating from a back room somewhere.

I want to sit in an old plastic chair with my sister and her old high school friends on New Year's Eve, drinking Captain Morgan and Coke. I want to get drunk and giggly with them, singing along to Pink Floyd on Stevie's guitar while watching the Louisiana moon rise high and clear above us. And at midnight, we would shout and dance with sparklers and listen to the distant crackle of Roman candles and Black Cats. I would feel the life welling up inside me, and I would spin around until I got dizzy, exuberant just to be living and passing another year in this amazing world.

I want..............