Tuesday, November 04, 2008

President Barack Obama

...the beacon still burns bright.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Out in the rain

As if there's not enough going on...
Yesterday, I had the most awful day. Awful. It was raining. It was dark; it felt like nighttime at 10 in the morning, here in Milan. My husband is away for the week. I was running around like a crazed person trying desperately not to let anything fall through the cracks.
So what did I do? I let something fall.
At 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon, after a day of ferrying children back and forth, spending time with an aging relative, and doing my work, I realize that Luna is gone. Luna is our dog of 10 years. She's not at my house. She's not at my mother-in-law's (right next door) where she passes nearly every hour of every day. I panic. I retrace my steps. AND OH MY GOD. I remember that I've left her tied up outside my youngest daughter's nursery school. Where she's been. Under the cold rain. Since 9:00 in the morning. The math? 8 hours. A full working day. And she's not young.
The guilt is already unbearable. I throw on my raincoat, run to the nursery school crying and panting and going as fast as I can. And when I get there, she's not there. Just by chance, the school is open, because there were parents' meetings just about to begin, which I was supposed to have attended. But, you know, when you've accidentally murdered your own dog, you don't hang out at PTA meetings. Anyway, I go in the school, and I throw myself at the nearest attendant and say between sobs, "Has anyone seen my dog." She narrows her eyes and looks at me like the murderer I am, and pulls a wrinkled piece of paper out of her pocket with a phone number on it. "Call this number," she says. "Someone came by around 1:00 and took the poor beast away." That's what they say in Italy; it's a term of endearment: Povera bestia.
I call the number. Turns out, that, yes, just after midday, someone saw Luna in a miserable state in the rain and called "The Friends of Animals," a volunteer association not far from my house. They came, picked up the trembling remains of our dear animal, dried her, warmed her, fed her, gave her water, had her scanned at the nearby veterinary clinic for the information her microchip would yield (didn't find it), then waited for someone (me) to call. 
When I get there with my mother-in-law in tow, the woman meets me and says Luna is in the home of a volunteer dog sitter not far away. We go all together in the car, and are greeted by an elderly gentlemen with an extremely kind face. As it turns out, he's an ex purse designer for all the major fashion houses, and he's kept Luna the whole day in his old studio. Luna practically does a dance when she sees us. Weaving and wagging—bang bang her tail thwacks against the open door—around and around smelling and sniffing and "smiling" that dog's smile that says, "Is it true? Is it really you? I'm so happy!" She's fine. She's not lame. She's not dead. She's not even holding a grudge.
And even with the depth of her forgiveness, I am having a horrible time forgiving myself. Sleep didn't come last night. And I'm feeling certain that the "breathing" I so highly recommended two posts ago isn't going to accomplish a whole hell of a lot. 
How could you have done that? you ask?
Well, it's like this. 99.99999% of the time, my husband takes Luna with him when he takes our eldest to school. I stay home and attend to the other child. When Luna comes home with him, she eats, then spends the day at my mother-in-law's, sleeping on the couch while she knits, eating the frequently offered goodies, and taking walks when weather permits. I don't see her until she comes home for dinner. And as I'm stressed with being alone and responsible for everything and everyone, I forgot that I'd "disrupted" the usual rhythm of things by taking her with me, and tying her outside the school, where I never have the habit of leaving her. As for the microchip, it was in place, they'd just missed it with the first scan.
So a series of both awful and fortunate events unfolded yesterday, reminding me that when I try to be and do everything, shit happens. And, yet, there's not a lot I can do to change it. I remember something my sometimes-therapist said to me years ago. He said, "Be careful as you do the everyday things." We'd been talking about happiness—I was at the time extremely happy—and his warning to me was to remain present and conscious and alert, even as I was feeling so "on top of things" and capable. Yesterday, whizzing through my Super Woman routine, I forgot his words. 
To make it all the more poignant for me, Luna feels for all the world like the perfect metaphorical representation of me. We got her weeks after I moved to Milan full of new love to start my new life. We have aged together. I see the passage of my life in her gray muzzle and her slower movements. I left her out in the rain. 
I left myself out in the rain too. It's going to take me some time to feel normal again.


Hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope (breathe) hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope (again) hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope. 

- Janet