july 25, 2010

7 Aug

it’s not so much that it happened – it’s how it happened. she was my first rodent. my beloved little coffee bean.

i’ve never felt so alone. surrounded by people – who know & love me – yet i felt utterly disconnected. i alone caused the death of an adorable creature who depended on me entirely. no amount of platitudes, of “you couldn’t have known,” of “she lived a good life,” of “she had a pretty short life expectancy anyway,” can take away my pain and the awful truth: my beautiful wee annie died today, and she didn’t have to.

the worst part is, i had thought i was being cautious, attentive, careful… i had thought through most scenarios ahead of time. yet she was suffering, albeit for a brief time, but suffering she surely was, and i didn’t notice until it was too late. the one duty any human has to her companion animals, the ultimate obligation that all pets ask of their humans, is that they’re at the bare minimum kept healthy & safe from harm. i failed in that duty.

annie was the cutest little gal, full of energy & curiosity & affection. now i’m surrounded by her empty cage, her bright orange ball, & all her other accessories meant to give her a fuller, happier life. in the end, she died in the palm of the hand of the one who was supposed to take care of her; she went silently, quickly, peacefully; but still…

maybe this is the better place to be, now. the instinctive desire for isolation was strong & is ever-present in me, but maybe it is for the best that i’m surrounded by life, by distractions, by sympathy – even if i feel i don’t deserve it. i realise that guilt after the fact changes nothing, that feeling bad now won’t help anything. my little annie is gone & that can’t be changed. all i can do is try to glean something from the experience, which will hopefully mean i’ll never again be responsible for the death of another creature. yet the guilt is still there; that horrible, gut-wrenching guilt at having let someone down in the most despicable way. i’m not ready to fully take part in this week’s event; i’m not able to do even the things i was looking forward to a mere 24 hours ago. writing, photographing, documenting the week in detail – now it feels futile. i’m not in the mood; it feels inappropriate. i’m in mourning.

note: annie passed away shortly after a long road trip, likely due to overheating. she had been completely fine for most of the trip; very active & curious as always. it was only at the very end of the ride that she quieted down & then became listless. i had done all i could to ensure good air movement, cool temps, never leaving her in the hot car alone during bathroom breaks… but it wasn’t good enough, obviously. one happy note from that fateful road trip, though: also along for the ride was edie the hedgie, who, happily, survived and thrived, despite being in identical conditions as annie.


aside from the tornadoes

17 Jul

qui rit après sa mort? la pluie dans le feuillage (christian bobin)

severe thunderstorm watch in effect: risk of a severe thunderstorm late this afternoon. that’s fine by me, aside from the tornadoes. edie is digging deeper and deeper in her bedding, perhaps trying to hide from the loudly grumbling sky outside. the clouds are a most interesting tableau of abstract art; great swaths of dark grey punctuated by a little billowy whiteness here, a few wisps of pale grey over there… we’ve been averaging one storm per week this summer. aside from the tornadoes, i’m thrilled: i love rain. and cool breezes. and the earthy scent of fresh vegetation. the only thing that worries me, aside from the tornadoes, is one of my bedroom windows: it somehow flung wide open during last week’s storm, and now sits perpendicular to the window frame – with no way to be pulled back in, as the mechanism broke ages ago. hopefully i won’t be woken from tonight’s slumber to the sound of my window being torn off the house, and blowing away down the street…

the rain, now falling fast and hard, is hitting the roof in a succession of heavy thuds, big drops splashing and crashing all around. the sky has brightened, but it’s difficult to see through the thick curtain of raindrops. why is that sound so comforting?

another goodbye

12 Jul

i wish this worked, + that i had taken it with me. alas, it went with the house

ten years ago, i said goodbye to my childhood home. my parents, then recently-divorced, sold our property and a little piece of my soul along with it. we had moved into that house just after my 4th birthday, and it was sold a few months before my 20th birthday. the land has changed much since it changed hands. yet in my mind’s eye it remains as it was: wide expanses of green grass; abundant vegetable and flower gardens; aviary populated with racing pigeons, mourning doves, pheasants and canaries; rabbit cages housing dwarf bunnies; chicken coop and yard playing host to dozens of fiery red chickens. there was a wooden staircase, made of cut logs, that allowed the childhood me to explore the vast hills that lined the back end of our property; there was a swing, made of heavy-duty chain and a carved and painted wooden seat, all dangling from a huge maple tree; both of these were made by my dad’s hands, for me. a part of me still lives on in that house and its grounds.

today, my mum said goodbye to her childhood home. well, one of them; she was the firstborn and she and my grandparents moved around quite a bit until they finally settled in the place that they would call home for the next 46 years. four more children were born into the family in that house, as well as four grandchildren, of which i am one. i lived in that house for a time, twice. it was a happy, safe place to be. my family didn’t go on many vacations – but when we did, that house was where we stayed. it was the opposite of my home: where my home was isolated, serene, rural, + rustic, my grandparents’s house was urban, loud, + teeming with people at all hours of the day and night. at some of the most chaotic and unstable times of my life, my grandparents and their home were a sort of rock that kept me grounded.

as i approach the next decade of my life, i understand it’s a pivotal time, a time of life that’s rife with change. in the past 10 years i’ve had to say goodbye to many of my “rocks”, my homes, my homes-away-from-home, my sense of familiarity, my links to my past, my foundation. my home is gone; our business is gone; now the homes of both sets of grandparents are gone; soon the place i’ve called home for the past 8 years will be gone, too. for some, this wouldn’t be seen as a big deal; but for someone like me, who hasn’t moved around much in her life, it all adds up to a very big deal. it’s a cliché to say that life is forever changing, that life itself is ephemeral, and that “all things come to an end”; and i know the truly important “things” in life aren’t things at all, or places, but the people we love and the connections we make. but there’s still that little girl inside of me, the vulnerable one, the delicate one, that wishes that there could be just one little thing that just wouldn’t change; something concrete, something tangible, something enduring. just one little thing to hold on to.

letter to a ghost

4 Jul

le temps a fait un pas, et la face de la terre a été renouvelée.

i bought a book today, because of you. as i wandered the aisles, scanning the titles on the shelves, one book seemed to jump out at me. i’d never seen it before, but remembered you telling me about it. a classic, written by one of those “great” writers, centuries ago. you told me not of the story itself, but the role it played in your life.
you didn’t enjoy reading; books held no interest for you. that’s so hard to believe, considering the path your life has taken. but this book, this short story, you read it at 17 (because you had to? for school? i don’t know). and so began your love affair with literature. you never spoke of the plot, of the characters; you said only that the story spoke to you in a way no book ever had.
it had been so long since i thought about you. yet out of the blue, on a cool summer morning, there you were, on a bookshelf. i never would have picked up that book if i hadn’t heard your story years ago; never would have hesitated with it, finally tucking it under my arm with the other books i intended to purchase.

one hundred and forty-three

1 Jul


27 Jun

summer sunset, seule

the sky is pink and purple and peach and blazing orange, glowing behind the trees. it’s a cool evening, with a breeze and a sudden lack of humidity. the air that’s been thick with haze and smoke these past few days has thinned out to the point of being refreshing after a brief storm. it really is perfect weather for camping.

this summer is going to be different than my previous 8 summers: this time, there will be no day trips to small farm towns near and far; no extended camping trips on the shores of the lake; no late night walks in random neighbourhoods at midnight; no impromptu bonfires organized at the last minute. there will be the usual festivals – fringe, folklorama – but the company i keep shall be different, and therefore the entire dynamic of my attendance at said events will be different. “different” does not equal “bad”, and i will simply find a new groove this summer. but… i did so like the old groove.

pool party

26 Jun

i promise i’m not anti-social. well, not a lot… except perhaps whilst trying to sleep.

i’m not sure why, but i desperately needed a nap this morning. only a few hours after getting up, i could barely keep my eyes open. so it was that at 10:30 on a saturday morning, i went back to bed.

i slept for 3 hours. it would’ve been longer, had there not been a get-together of sorts next door. the one next door neighbour used to have a hot tub, but it disappeared at the same time as her ex. a few days ago, i noticed she had installed an above-ground pool in its place, on her deck. this morning she had company over; from the sounds of it, 3 adults and 2 small children. not that i was eavesdropping: i simply had no choice but to hear their goings-on. as i’ve explained before, my bedroom is the attic of an old house. there are 4 windows up there that use crank-style mechanisms to open. one of those mechanisms is completely busted, meaning i can’t budge the window. so the window is stuck wide open. unfortunately, it’s the window that overlooks my neighbour’s back yard. and so it was that i heard everything happening at my neighbour’s impromptu summer morning party.

as i was dozing on my bed, i slowly returned to consciousness at the sound of a repetitious mantra. i heard this highly annoying baby voice – not the voice of a baby, but an adult speaking baby-talk, y’know? so it’s a man’s voice, all high-pitched and googly-gaga, and this voice is saying a single phrase, over… and over… and over. so i’m lying there and all i hear is “big splaaaaaash! big splaaaaash!” with the occasional “yay!” thrown in for good measure. obviously the wee ones were playing in the pool. but c’mon, seriously?

it went on like that for literally 10 minutes, non stop, that’s all the dude said, in the exact same sing-songy tone of voice, “big splaaaaaash!” i thought i might go give him a big splash – of boiling water to the face.

so then something happened and one of the small kids started crying and screeching. so dude stopped his “big splaaaaash!” for a couple of minutes while people comforted the kid. (wanna know what happened? apparently the little girl, slightly older than the little crying boy, splashed him right in the face. now where do you suppose she got that idea?)

after a few minutes of crying, all was forgotten and the splashing resumed. only this time, dude changed it up. he took it up a notch and started singing what was obviously a song he was making up on the spot. now, i’m all for creativity and spontaneous bursts of song. however, for the next 15 minutes (yes, i timed it), the soundtrack of my “nap” went like this:

big splash, big splash,
heidi heidi ho!
big splash, big splash,
oh no oh no oh no!
big splash, big splash,
oomagammmago! [or other random sounds that ended with rhyme for “go”]
big splash, big splash,
big splash here we go!
big splaaaaaaaaash!

and then he would clap frantically for a few seconds… before starting it all over again.

he sounded like a freaking teletubby. i mean, good on the dude for not worrying about his manliness and just goofing off for the kids, but seriously? i’ve never ever heard a man use exclusively baby talk for such a long stretch, without interruption. (unless he was a paid entertainer; then I’d understand. but from what I could gather from my perch in my bedroom, he was just some random relative/friend, no clown.) he never once used a normal adult voice, never once said anything except “big splash” and random rhyming words and sounds. So by watching the clock, i determined that i laid there for about half an hour listening to this buffoon. i wish he had just taken a big splaaaaash in the pool himself, and “accidentally” swallowed a bunch of chlorinated water.