One day, two stories
I awoke to the springs of the bed compressing with a seismic shift as a 60-pound Labrador retriever pounced by my side. This prompted my fiancée to awaken, and she quickly resumed scratching furiously at the flea bites scattered across her body.
Shado’s last flea medication application had not worked properly, and now my human and canine gals were both miserably itchy. Tawny’s skin was caked in calamine lotion and hydrocortizone, her hair lathered in some form of insect repelling solution.
I called the vet as I promised I would; though we couldn’t risk re-applying medication so early, they could sell us a different pill that would supposedly kill the fleas in 24 hours. But we would need to vacuum. And launder clothes and blankets. And wipe down couches. Toss out trash. Empty the vacuum chamber outside.
I began to grumble. I was hungry. My new contact lenses were irritating my eyes and I searched for an hour to find my glasses.
Bloody hell! This was my weekend! After working nearly 80 hours a week, this was my brief opportunity for respite and pleasure. And yet I hadn’t truly had a “free” weekend in months. I had been occupied with work and guests. And seeing as how it was already Sunday (and I had spent the previous day running errands), I clearly wasn’t going to get a weekend on this occasion either.
We hauled our regular laundry plus piles of blankets and towels down to the laundry room. It was already crowded – as it typically is on the weekends – so I knew we would need to switch our clothes from the washer to dryer in a timely manner or someone else would toss them atop a washer. I hate that. Stacking clean clothes on a dusty washer top. *shudder*
We raced to our vet one town away where I forked over $30 for a flea pill that would only serve as a stop gap for the problem. When we returned, Tawny took Shado to the dog park while I vacuumed every fricking crevice of the apartment. I began to perspire and my glasses slid off my nose. Upon her return, Tawny bathed our pup.
We needed to go shopping all afternoon and I, in my foggy scatterbrainedness, managed to leave my wallet at home, only noticing after we had rung up nearly $100 in groceries. Tawny had to drive back and forth to retrieve it. I made a return trip to the dog park before dinner. All along I was grumbling, mumbling, whining.
At 3 in the morning – only a few hours before I had to wake up for work – I heard a constant dripping sound. I got out of bed to investigate.
We are on the first floor of an apartment complex; water was leaking from the unit above, raining down into our bathroom area.
“Goddamnit,” I cursed. “I don’t understand why I can’t have a weekend to relax just like everyone else. Why can’t I …. Grumble grumble grumble …”
We moved two waste buckets below the waterfall and went back to bed. Insomnia then took hold and I remained awake until 30 minutes before I needed to get ready for work.
I awoke to the springs of the bed compressing with a seismic shift as a 60-pound Labrador retriever pounced by my side.
Shado was clearly irritated with her itchiness and yet she took a few moments before scratching to deliver a series of sand-paper kisses to the side of my cheek. Tawny rolled over and I could see her discomfort; she was plastered in red welts and thinking about both her midterm and her oral argument on Monday.
On the drive back from the vet, Tawny grabbed my hand. “I know you’re hungry. Why don’t we run through a drive-thru and get us some food?”
Me: *Grumble, grumble.*
Both of us took Shado to the dog park that day. Irvine has a massive dog park with ample running room and wonderful people and pets. It’s three minutes from our house. Along the way are parks and a shimmering lake. I had a good conversation about sports and politics with one of my dog park buddies. I left with Shado grinning from ear to flopping ear.
I was embarrassed I had forgotten my wallet and angry at myself for wasting Tawny’s time; she needed to be studying. Still, she wasn’t fazed in the slightest.
“Wait here,” she said, seizing the keys from my hand. “I’ll grab it and be right back.”
Tawny texted me later about splitting the bill – we both pay for our own groceries – and said she owed me $50.
I told her only to transfer me $40. She had selected a small, purplish orchid at the store and I suddenly wanted to get it for her. She texted back a smiley face and an oath: “I promise to take care of it!” I won’t lie. I smiled myself.
I tossed and turned to the sound of the dripping water. Each splatter of H20 seemed a wave crashing to my sleep-deprived mind. After a while I surrendered to the insomnia and did what doctors recommend not doing when you can’t sleep: I picked up my phone.
Dozens of messages awaited me from Greg and Chris, two of my best hometown friends. It was 4 a.m. but they were both wide awake and apparently plastered. Chris had started with:
“I forget cause I’m pretty drunk right now but I think the 3 of us have a pact that if we are fucked up watching Garden State we are supposed to let each other know. So… I’m faded as fuck watching it right now.”
They were talking about life, and Natalie Portman, and bachelor parties, and March Madness, and a bit of crude, masculine bravado.
But they were also talking about their favorite moments in the film. The spin the bottle scene. The scene with “Large” floundering in the swimming pool.
This is when I hopped into the texting fray and said my favorite part is when Natalie Portman announces she can tap dance and then proceeds to leap around the fire. Greg, with as much sentimentality as that that man-bear can muster, conceded, “that scene tugs at my feeble excuse for heart strings as well.”
This made me smile. I rested my head back against the pillow and joined in on a few final jokes until half an hour before I had to get ready for work. The soft glow from the phone with the wisecracks of dear friends hundreds of miles afar.
Tawny grabbed my hand.
And I fell peacefully to sleep.