One of my favourite games to play with another person is The Lottery Game. You've probably played it. The rules are as such;
- You win £1m on the lottery. It's always a nice, round £1m.
- You have to spend it.
That's it. Then you and the other person break up the million pounds and describe what you'll spend it on. I take this game very seriously, spending my winnings down to the very last penny. I calculate (badly) in my head how much I'll spend on gifts, on property, on cars. I usually buy myself a nice and large 3 bedroomed regency flat on the Brighton seafront, with high ceilings and chandeliers and an outside space for my hypothetical Boston Terrier named Bean to sniff the flowers in. I don't even play the lottery in real life, but I'm sure as hell good at spending my imaginary winnings.
I also pay off family's mortgages, buy a couple of nice cars as gifts and try to pay off any debts I know close family have. If I have a spare couple of hundred grand, I'll buy a cheap property as an investment to rent out. After that, the real, hard thinking comes into play.
In the Lottery Game, I don't need a job if I don't want one. Sometimes I start an online business with my winnings and end up with even more money. Sometimes I just give everything up and sit around in my new flat with my new dog. The Lottery Game means I have time, the luxury of all the time I need. I don't have to go to work any more, so I can spend all that time I was sat behind a desk on travelling the world, visiting all the places I have seen on the TV, or on faded posters in travel agent's windows.
I start by visiting Iceland. I've always wanted to go there, the fjords and geysers and volcanos with names that sound like sneezes. I'll wrap up in that big furry coat that it's never cold enough to wear here, and spend time trying to spot an Arctic fox or a whale, or wave to a visiting Polar Bear (I know this is a childish fantasy, but it's my fantasy).
We'll manage to be lucky enough to catch the Northern Lights, of course, and visit the Blue Lagoon, even though people have told me that it's gross and full of germs and people's plasters.
After Iceland, we'll (for I always pay for others to accompany me on these trips, seeing as I have the wealth) find ourselves in the San Blas Islands of Panama. Our clothes all shed, our skin sweet and sticky in the heat, we'll spend our days in a cayuko, thinking of nothing, looking at everything and trying to remember that I mustn't forget anything at all.
The photos I have seen of San Blas make my pulse quicken and my eyes widen instantly. I almost don't believe that the sea can be that colour, or that the beaches are really that beautiful. It's the view that I picture when someone begins "If you were trapped on a desert island...." - unspoilt technicolour.
Next, we're driving an old pink convertible Cadillac along Route 66. In my fantasy, I can drive, because it's my fantasy and I'm guessing if I had all that money I would have spent some of it on driving lessons. You'd like to think, anyway.
I get so lost in my fantasies that they almost seem real for a while, and I'm planning and spending and touching and seeing and doing and it's all so very easy and I'm dizzy with the easy pleasure of it all. I'm spending time outside of my head, and oh my is it glorious. It's funny, as when I sleep, my dreams are usually so pedestrian that my daydreams seem to try and make up for my subconscious' lack of ambition.
I visit the USS Arizona Memorial in Honolulu and watch the oil escape in slick tears from under water. In Australia, I pitch a tent under desert oaks with Uluru looming in the distance, waiting for me to arrive and touch its red dust the next day.
In South America, we visit Ushuaia, holding maps to try and ground ourselves and stop ourselves from falling off the bottom of the world.
In Europe, I touch the remaining sections of the Berlin Wall. I do The Sound Of Music tour in Salzburg, much to Chris' distaste. In my fantasy, though, he actually enjoys it. We eat tapas in Spain and things we can't pronounce in the South of France whilst staying a villa exactly the same as the one Charlotte Rampling stays in, in the film Swimming Pool. We buy crusty baguettes from a boulangerie and snap the ends off to eat before we even leave the shop, saving the rest to eat with fatty, cured meats and thick, oozing slices of Brie and great chunks of Doux de Montagne during a lazy six weeks or so that isn't marked by time, but by our clothes steadily getting tighter. We just buy new ones.
After playing the game, and returning to my own life, I often feel a little panicked. There's just so much out there, outside of Brighton and the funny little island that I call home, that I feel claustrophobic sometimes - the great weight of responsibility and the trappings of time and money (or lack thereof).
I compose myself by writing a list of the top five places I want to go, in order, promising myself that I will at least see those five in years hopefully not too far from this one. I find it therapeutic.
In the meantime, I remind myself that there often is not a better place to be found than sitting on my sofa, with my legs under the patchwork quilt my Nan made for me as a small child, hot mug of tea in hand. Because at the end of all my trips during The Lottery Game, all the continents and sailing boats and sun-tan lotion, museums and culture, food and drink, incredible sights and smells, I always, without fail, come home.
Where do you dream of visiting? Tweet me at @NatalieKate_M