In my parallel universe — the one that still sustains me in hope, the one where fear is rarely a thought — the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are over and done, and the young man from Missouri who sat next to me on a plane would be more charitable about his parents, whom he called "hippies," because they oppose America's two current wars. He enlisted in the army while he was in college, and now he's on his way to Afghanistan, as soon as he finishes 10 days of training at Fort Meade. "I'm proud to do it," the soldier said, resting his Kindle for some minutes of conversation. "I'm happy to do it."

"You were 12 when the Afghanistan war started. Are you scared?" I asked.

"Nope," he answered. "I'm gonna kick butt."

In my parallel universe, the memories I have about 9/11 each time I drive between Savage and Laurel along Route 1 would be nondescript instead of intense and physical as I recall that some of the terrorists lived in motels on that stretch of road, planning their strike against America's soul. They were Islamic extremists. Unlike my dear friend from Cyprus, unlike my dear neighbors from Pakistan, as well as others who can be defined every day by their kindness, the intention of radical religionists of any ilk is to confuse, wound, hurt or kill.


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In my parallel world, Dominque Strauss-Kahn would not have been accused by a maid in Manhattan of attempted rape because he, who at the time was the boss of the International Monetary Fund, would have the utmost respect for women, and the thought of sexually assaulting a maid in his posh $3,000-a-night room would have been the farthest thing from his mind. DSK said the encounter was consensual. Authorities dropped charges against him after deciding the maid's story didn't hold up. Who saw that one coming? Apparently, scores of protesters who came out in her favor did.

How much was that room again? Never mind. Some New York suites cost five digits per night. Maybe four digits could be the frugality of a socialist.

DSK is now back in France and the European Business Insider says he has not yet decided whether he will run for president on the Socialist ticket, as he had planned before his arrest in New York. Currently, he is unemployed.

In my parallel universe, Central America would not be dropping like dominos to the Mexican drug cartels. When I was in Costa Rica this past spring, I was warned to avoid several areas because of drug dealing, theft, prostitution and kidnapping. These conditions, unfortunately, exist worldwide. But a conversation I had about kidnapping was unnerving. "We don't want to have to pay a ransom for you," a tour agent joked. "Unless you have kidnapping and ransom insurance already."

Sometimes I think about our earth and what we do to ourselves. I do not want a return to the past. It wasn't so great for a lot of people in this country anyway. And I will not talk about the economy or the debt ceiling or how so very much I hate those spiral light bulbs that don't seem to last any longer than the others. I'm just like Rodney King, who sparked the 1992 Los Angeles riots when cops beat him, who asked, "Can we all get along?"

Recently, a stranger at an event commented to me, "The coke is flying tonight!" Last Saturday a man who helped me load an item advised me to lock my car when I took my cart to the holding pen. I asked why. He answered that people deal drugs on that lot, as it is close to I-95.

In my parallel universe all would be right with the world. But that's silly, isn't it.