One of the things I always liked about super-hero comic books were the alternate universes. DC's multi-verse or Elseworlds, Marvel's What-If's, even the zombie-centric stuff which has become a little bit over done, I just love the thought of it. Here's a world where Cary Wren becomes Green Lantern, here's a world where Spidey got Gwen Stacy, here's one where Batman's fighting the Nazis, and here's one where all these super-heroes never had any powers at all. And of course, there's always the evil universe -- where twisted versions of all exist, and the bad guys are all milquetoasts. Fun stuff. Now, I don't know physics or Stephen Hawking very well, I can't really speak to how "real" this conceit actually is [I've read it's a possibility, but that was years ago], all I know is it kept me watching "Sliders" even when all of the characters were unrecognizable, and I think about it a lot.
I think... I would find it reassuring if it were true. If somewhere out there in the ether there was a parallel world, with a version of myself not too far removed, who's just had a little bit better go of it, who had all his friends nearby, who all thought today was a day worth celebrating, and got together, and maybe went out for drinks, or maybe stayed in for movies, and for sure at least one of them would totally have brought him cupcakes [I know that one could have happened], and a good time would have been had by all. Those of his friends who are sick in my universe, are well and able-bodied in his, and those chasing success and trying to figure out what to do with their lives have got it -- and just know. And maybe there is a girl, one I've known and loved in this life, or one I've never met, who was by his side through the whole thing, who was soft, and welcoming, and gave him a hard time, and was there to tell him to take himself a little less seriously, and that he would listen to that even though I probably never would, and everything would be just a little bit better. And maybe he'd have more of the things I've wanted, and less of the responsibilities I didn't, and that red couch from "Chasing Amy," and in that world you can still publish independent comics realistically, like Moore and Sim and Fingerman and Jeff Smith did in the 90s, and he'd totally have a burgeoning Strangers in Paradise on his hands.
Because hey, if we're talking about ideal alternate universes, right?
Sometimes I think of Grant Morrison's "Earth-2," and about how the only way to keep the good guys winning in the main DC universe was to make sure the bad guys, the Crime Syndicate, stayed in charge in their universe. Maybe what I'm doing, maybe all the stuff I've been going through in the past couple of years have kept him happy, and successful, and those who he cares about well and nearby. And that is my function, to be not Randall, but the great Antimatter Randall, with his heart on the wrong side, but still on his sleeve, making sure Matter Randall still... well, matters.
Which is of course bullshit. But when you think about it, it's a hell of birthday gift to give yourself.
I want to thank everyone who wished me a happy birthday, either on Twitter, or Facebook, or where ever. Swear this isn't a pity party, even if it sounds like one. I'll pick up more of the diary of my vacation tomorrow.
Twenty-five. Jesus. I'd be worried, except that five years sure was a hell of a long time.