Butterflies & U-Hauls
Andy got his teeth cleaned the other day. I was a wreck over putting him under anesthesia, but I found an actual doggie dentist who would not make him sit in a cage for hours. It was pricey but worth it, since I tend, in situations like this, to get past my anxiety over money by picturing myself in the future, after Andy is gone, thinking about how I will feel if I don’t spend the extra money to keep him out of a cage & get his teeth x-rayed, & it becomes a no-brainer. The day I brought Andy home from the shelter I vowed to him that he would never be in a cage again & I simply cannot go back on that. So instead of him waiting in a cage for the pre-anesthesia drugs to take effect, I sat on the floor in one of the little exam rooms with him while he barfed a couple of times. Jenna was there for moral support. He went in for the procedure & they let me go in & see how he was doing, & he was lying on his back under a warming blanket with an ET tube sticking out of his mouth. He came out with gleaming white movie-star chiclets & was so loopy he could barely stand up. He did not like it, I could tell. Andy is very into reality. I told him Honey, that’s why I quit smoking pot. It always made me paranoid. Years later someone gave me a little bag of dope, which sat in a drawer in my house for like 10 years. Once I took a hit of it but it certainly wasn’t like the Cheech & Chong dime bags I had smoked when I was a kid. I was immediately utterly removed, & I decided it was not worth not sharing my dog Noni’s reality, not being together in time with her, for even a single moment. Their lives are already short enough. I wondered why I had ever wanted to not be in reality, but that’s another blog. Anyway, a friend’s dog ran away once & he was so freaked he came over to be reassured & smoked the rest of it & felt better. So I considered it dope well spent. The dog came back.
After the dentist appointment, there we were in Irvine at 3 pm & it was useless to get on the freeway for at least another 4 hours, so I zig-zagged across the LA basin like a pinball, banging up against metered freeway on-ramps with 30 cars lined up waiting for more punishment. We got on PCH & drove next to the ocean. I took the fur-kids to Huntington Dog Beach. Jenna loved the smell & really wanted to go, but Andy was still stoned in the back & didn’t want to get out of the car. Another time.
While I was driving around I kept going through areas & neighborhoods where I’d lived & hung out. Memory Lane. I had the strong sense of saying good-bye, I’m not sure why. The traffic was loud, it was hot & stank of exhaust & I was racked with anxiety about not being able to Go Home Again, about the sadness of the very tired Dress-Rehearsal attitude toward life & about the feeling I knew I harbored that this was Groundhog Day & I’d wake up knowing what I know now & being able to re-do everything. Today I realized that the places were all still there & relatively unchanged, that’s the trick of this kind of thinking, but I was of course a different person & the Home I wanted to go back to was myself, only earlier. I sat in that steaming concrete jungle with my car ready to overheat, overwhelmed with anxiety & dread, Andy still loopy & taking up the entire back doggie-suite in my car & making Jenna have to squeeze into a corner, & this wild panic at life being like musical chairs where the music had stopped & everyone had sat down but me. Just a nightmare.
It got a little better when the traffic picked up & we started going east, toward home, although lately I have wanted to drive in any direction but toward my house, being away feels like a day pass out of the asylum & more & more I dread going back. On this day, though, it was certainly better than what I’d been sitting in for the past 4 hours. But when I got back I sent off an email that’s been sitting in my draft folder for two weeks, one responding to an ad I’d seen on craigslist from someone who was looking for a rental & who sounded pretty ideal. Years ago I ate at a Chinese restaurant & my fortune cookie had three identical fortunes in it. They all said Decisions Terminate Panic. I was so stunned at the universe going so out of its way to get my attention that I kept those fortunes for many years & probably still have them somewhere, not that the physical paper matters anymore.
For awhile now I’ve been putting off this decision. Trying to put one foot in front of the other toward it, but avoiding it all the same. Knowing that the moment when I would simply have to make my break, like in Shawshank Redemption, carving away at that thick wall with a teaspoon & waiting for the moment when the universe would carry me out. In the movie he lived in a real prison that had started to feel like home & I live in a real home that has started to feel like prison, so it’s the same story.
I’ve definitely done a lot of geographics in my life. Usually because my environment becomes intolerable in some way or another, but I’ve never had the difficulty picking up & leaving that I’m having now. Maybe it’s my age, maybe the rootedness I’ve come to feel in this place, maybe just fear of change, maybe all three. I’ve mentioned before how it’s come to feel like a bad marriage, my relationship with my house, & I remember that feeling well. How safe it felt to stay in a bad relationship that was getting worse by the minute but that felt better than the prospect of leaving. I did it, of course, but the fear & anxiety leading up to it was so crazy-making, just as it is now. I mentioned that those bad relationships start out like toothaches, mild, something to check out but not critical. But as I’ve also mentioned, waiting does not fix it. Things don’t self-resolve. It keeps getting worse & worse until you are tolerating something light-years from what you thought you’d ever be able to handle because the change from bad to worse was slow & incremental, & suddenly you realize your mouth is a bloody, pus-y, gaping mess & the entire side of your head is throbbing. Only then you are compelled to give it, as Judy Davis says in that Woody Allen movie about the divorcing couple, “a good clean yank.”
Luckily Andy did not have any cavities. I guess I’ve been doing a better job with his teeth than I gave myself credit for. The dentist wanted to put Ora-Vet on his teeth, this waxy stuff that is supposed to keep plaque from forming, but I’ve never trusted that stuff. For one thing, the picture on the front of the box is of a woman next to her dog. They are both smiling & you can see the woman’s teeth all pearly white, but you can’t see the dog’s teeth at all. I have always found that so strange it makes me downright uncomfortable, like Hazel Motes staring at the word MVSEVM and trying to figure out what on earth it means. Plus I figured, it will just rub off the first time I brush his teeth, there would go $65 down the drain. So I declined, but I did vow to up his brushing schedule.
We made it home, whatever that means. No, wait. I do know what that means. Home is where Andy & Jenna are. Home for them is where I am. So I think it will be possible to make the transition from thinking of the physical structure as home, start thinking of it as a house, let someone else live there, keep trying, at this late date that is making me feel I am running out of time, to seek my fortune.
From → Manifestos