Today’s installment of Poemy Monday is postponed until Tuesday. Today’s slice had to be written.
She was super skittish. Super wiggly. Right into the kid’s heart. Of course.
That one is pretty equal opportunity when it comes to heart space for creatures. She has an affinity and her crazy personality just simmers right on down when she slides up next to anything with fur, humans aside.
It was only a short time before that pig of the guinea variety would popcorn hop herself all over the cage when she would hear the kid’s “Hey, Cookie!”
She made her way into the thank you pics for Girl Scout Cookies. You know. Cause she’s a Cookie and they are cookies… sigh.
As she has been hobbling something horrible after her five foot dive to the hardwood floor, and as my broken heart has yet to recover from saying goodbye to my fuzzy kitty with her own broken heart, I didn’t have it in me to approach the unapproachable with this little rodent so tied to the heart of my heart.
Too. Much. Heart.
So the hero of the house found himself holding on to the traveling case on his way to the closest exotic animal veterinarian. Because dog and cat veterinarians are not for shattered pigs.
I’m still not sure our hearts will be okay after this.
I stand in the aisle telling myself that I am not in fact, ridiculous. The selections are bountiful. The scents range from pleasant to what I can only describe as mind numbing. Off comes every cap and with a whiff, I can tell if it will or will in fact not grace his armpits.
For some reason, in our marriage, I am slated with the purchase of my husband’s deodorant. As never does a swipe hit my underarm, I cannot be slated to remember what brand and manly scent I purchase each visit to that aisle. So a selection is made and he goes on his merry way not stinking up the joint, thanks to me.
Merry Christmas to him brought us to Milwaukee for a two night hard rock extravaganza a few months later. Leaving on a Friday after work and hastily packing both myself and our eight year old dynamo all hyped up on going to Grandma’s for the weekend led to the sh*t gettin real Saturday morning as we were getting ready to go brew it up before rocking it out.
We were on a deadline with Uber. I was left with little choice. So swipe times four and we were on our way.
Two, Dove For Men, Fresh Clean scented, pair of armpits. I’d like to think more than a few degrees away from the mind numbing end of the spectrum.
I pulled shirts and pants and all the other clothes fixins from the basket and tossed them into the suitcase. No one was going to see me except the pizza delivery guy, so making sure things matched or were suitable for public viewing was unnecessary.
Next came the book bag. Literally, the bag of books. Trying to decide would be like choosing which limb to amputate, so no less than eight would do.
The rolling crate of notebooks and papers to grade came next. You can stop laughing now. I had every intention of getting to some.
One coffee machine and all its fixins later and I was almost ready.
Top it all off with a pillow and I was prepared.
Prepared to house sit for three glorious days with only the pitter patter of canine feet to keep me company. Prepared to read to my heart’s content and utter the minimum of words to the pizza delivery guy. Prepared to sleep sans ear plugs and hog all the covers.
I did achieve three glorious days with only the pitter patter of canine feet to keep me company. I achieved the minimum of words exchange with only the pizza guy. I achieved ear plug free sleep and I wrapped myself up like a burrito in the covers.
I almost achieved the reading. Really, I did. I had the book in my hand, Little Fires Everywhere- all cued up and ready to jump in. Then, in choosing the proper background noise for reading, I discovered that momma’s tv got Netflix.
And so commenced three days of pitter patter doggie feet, pizza, sleep, and two and a half seasons of The Magicians.
Still a total win in my book.
Which I did in fact read upon reentry to my life.
“It looks so much better already.”
I looked in the direction he was referring to. Small lots punctuated by piles of rubble. Trees standing tall, scattered around with nothing to shade. Little utility poles standing at attention with nothing to power.
What used to be there were small abodes to which those trees provided shade and those utility poles supplied power.
What used to be there were small abodes which provided shelter to that man who couldn’t get ahead after he lost his job, that woman who just liked to live small, that family who finally had a roof over their heads and were so thankful.
What used to be there were small abodes all gathered close, making up a community. Whether you thought it a mess or not, what used to be there with those small abodes was a neighborhood.
What sits in its place…
“I don’t know, seems sad to me.”
We left it with a dent in the wall.
We entered it fresh faced and staring down our lives with the determination of two twenty somethings in love. We painted. We got new to us couches that would one day follow us to our first house. We grew up and purchased our own computer and our first Christmas Tree. We got a real wood kitchen table and a fish in a vase who would later prove to be practically immortal.
My dad trudged up three flights of stairs to show me how to light the pilot light on my stove. Yep. We were the king and queen of our first apartment. Our very own two bedroom kingdom.
Except this kingdom had very close borders. Particularly those to the north. Neighboring kingdoms that went unnoticed unless it was 6 in the morning on any given day.
For at 6 in the morning on any given day, the king of the land to the North preferred to start his day with deafening, wall shaking, ear splitting, poke your eyes out with a fork, for ear plugs could not soften the blow, polka music.
Polka music to the tune of a frustrated elbow to the wall. The king blames the queen. The queen blames the genre.
The tears came easily. I couldn’t figure out what moment in time created the heartbreak I could see in her big blue water filled eyes. She stood there clutching the polka dotted pillow with white gripped knuckles.
With an impatient sigh, I muttered, “Maddie, it’s just a pillow, we are getting a new couch and it’s going to the curb with all the rest.”
“But. Hailey,” came the small reply.
The pillow started on the new couch. It ended up attached to a furry feline wherever it traveled. We never could figure out why. But wherever the pillow went, so did she. It could have been the smooshy almost flattened cush. It could have been the soft worn down sheen. It could have been that it smelled like her person. But like clockwork, if you wondered where Hailey was, just check the polka dotted pillow.
It had been months since that moment in time and the heartbreak was as fresh in her eyes as if it had been yesterday. Her Hailey. Her smooshy faced, if I fits I sits, best friend. Whose pictures were lovingly attached to a since worn out copy of Cat Heaven by Cynthia Rylant.
Her fuzzy self was firmly implanted in Maddie’s heart and in Maddie’s mind, to that polka dotted pillow.
I gently placed my hands on either side of my daughter’s face, wiping away the wetness as it flowed from her eyes, while blinking it out of my own.
“Of course we keep the pillow, sweetie. I know Hailey wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Maddie comes traipsing down the steps carrying a large teal colored “we never bought those shoes” shoebox. My teacher Mom self immediately cringes thinking of some project or another we will need to add to our slate. My fellow mom next to me cringes in fear of a forgotten one.
Luckily for her, no project was forgotten. Lucky for me, no new deadline was looming over our heads.
Their class was simply studying habitats and their party of five created a lovely shoe boxed diorama habitat. Complete with shredded cotton snow.
When the time came to take home projects the group unanimously agreed that Maddie should get custody.
How does such a group come to a unanimous decision I wondered? Eight year olds are apt to argue even the most finite of points in a battle to the death.
The response when I inquired was, “Oh, they all said it just made sense to give it to me.”
In other news, the community within my daughter’s third grade class is doing just fine.
The diorama is currently sitting in a sea of black and white, it’s teal edges barely peeking out. The penguins inside were immediately welcomed into the family.