My grandmother was married to a slouch. My mother dated a principal. Nearly one decade ago, I resolved to enter the dating pool, too, but with plans to rise even higher. I would find the best sentient being in the multiverse and make them mine, free from the petty social mores that hamstrung my mother’s love life.
From 2005 until 2015, I pursued that objective with extraordinary focus. I dated Brad Pitt at 18. Built my own multiverse phase shifter by 23. On Earth Two and Earth Three I made connections with brilliant scientists, academics, and technologists. Was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor, four Nobel Prizes for Physics on four Earths, the Legion of Honor, and was made a Dame. At the age of 25, I was betrothed to the Emperor of the Americas.
I can’t understate how rare this opportunity is: the Emperor of the Americas. Emperors are few and far between. Landing one without being from that version of reality or working as a courtier is about as likely as landing a spot on an NBA team with a walk-on tryout.
I had read all the doom-and-gloom fluff pieces about dating, but it felt like none of that applied to me. I had a multiverse phase shifter and the Emperor of the Americas at my beck and call. Although a physicist by training, I viewed myself as beyond such simple labels: I was an explorer of alternate realities, in command of time and space.
I had not just survived the actual Hunger Games on Earth Eleven—I had literally emerged triumphant.
Then, it all began to fall apart.
First, there was the lack of self-confidence from the Emperor. He seemed so wonderful. Was in control of the entire Western Hemisphere. Had a good smile. But, ugh, believe in yourself, man!
Have I told you how awesome I am? Is it apparent yet that anything I set my mind to, I can accomplish? I once played a stadium show in Berlin without ever practicing guitar. Designers would regularly mimic how I dressed. My coming to Earth Seven was turned into an international holiday for the five nations where people still lived.
One day, a friend asked “Why aren’t you doing something meaningful with your life?”
And, I thought about it and realized, why settle for finding the best sentient being when I can rule the multiverse?
And so now, after devoting nearly 10 years to this life, I’ve decided to walk away. I’m quitting my relationship with the Emperor of the Americas; by May of next year, I’ll be out of this reality forever, except when I come back to conquer.
Here are some departing thoughts.
1) Always Bring an Umbrella
Seriously, when you phase shift into another universe, you don’t want to get wet if you don’t have to.
2) Al Gore Made a Great President on Earth Eight
Instead of just growing a beard and growing a documentary, that guy stopped climate change and didn’t invade Iraq!
3) Emperors Pity Their Subjects. But They Can’t Help Them.
I will try, try, try to be a good Empress. But “good” for me, does not necessarily mean “good” for you, my subjects.
4) “Alternate Reality” Isn’t a Solution
You think your world sucks? Hate to break it to you, but everybody thinks their world sucks. Except Tom Selleck. He generally seems to be very pleased in every reality where I’ve met him. You can keep running to another reality, but really, you need to fix things in your space.
5) The Partner You Choose Isn’t the Problem; Your Expectations Are
In trying to find the “best” fiancé, what was I really trying to find and who created my definition of best?
In the time that’s allotted to us to in life, we have to make many choices. Opting to pursue an unfulfilling relationship solely because one loves it is an available option. But that decision has consequences. In a multiverse like ours, where supply and demand are distorted, many promising young people make rash decisions with an inadequate understanding of their long-term implications. Even for people like me, who succeed despite the odds, it’s possible to look back and realize we’ve worked toward a disappointment, ending up as “winners” of a mess that damages its participants more every day.
Had I known sooner, I would’ve given up on this shrinking side of love many years ago, saving myself plenty of grief while conserving the most valuable quantity of all: time. No one should have to wait so long or sacrifice so much of it for a relationship like this. Time is money, and we must spend it wisely. Until something is done the relationship is no longer an investment of time worth making.
Darling, Emperor Rubio V, may you know: it’s not you; it’s me.
Madison Stone is a physicist, explorer and Empress of Earth’s Six and Seven. Her writing has appeared in Science, Nature, Harper’s, and on the face of the Moon.