To this very day – that’s when Bugs showed up.
It was the Thanksgiving weekend. Saturday, November 28, 2009. One year ago, to this very date.
It was the second anniversary of the death of a friend from ALS. I’d just found out that another friend relapsed with cancer. Another relationship in my life, a big one, had hit the rocks. Again. After a lifetime of shipwrecks, indistinguishable in their hopeless character.
It was time to take stock.
I decided I’d treat the holiday like a solitary retreat. I canceled feast plans. I wrote letters to self and others. I thought long and hard about where I seemed to be going. I didn’t much like what I saw. It was time for a change.
Little did I dream that, heralded by the stench of bodily eliminations of the second kind, change was to romp in early that cold clear morning.
I showed up to the downtown studio where a small cohort and I practice FELDENKRAIS®. The vestibule was eye-wateringly unapproachable, on account of it stank. We backed out, crawled in instead through a tunnel-like service closet. After class, we cracked jokes about how we’d been reborn thanks to FELDENKRAIS – bursting outside through the same birth-canal we’d entered.
Later, as I was cleaning up the mess, its cause came bounding down the steps in the form of the as-yet-unnamed Bugs. As I opened the door to sweep out the refuse, this little gray-and-white scrap streaked past. Fearing that he belonged to one of the residents, I tried to catch him. Fat chance. May as well try to stop a river.
Turns out he was a stray. The building residents had been feeding him (not well, judging from the eliminatory evidence), and otherwise caring for him not at all. Well, I thought – things can’t stay this way. Welcoming my FELDENKRAIS peeps to a supposed place of healing that was, in reality, a pestilential evil-smelling den. “I’ll take him to the shelter,” I said to the resident. “Be my guest,” she said.
I called him, he came rollicking up, I gathered him in my arms – strange to think, now, as I recall how wild he really was. And, together with the filthy pillow he’d been crashing on, an assortment of life-forms – him, me, unseen fleas, ear-mites (the pic below ain’t nuthin, Bugs’s ears were black inside from base to tip), worms, mange, and heaven-knew-what-else – we were off.
Except — I paused at the first stoplight. To the shelter? Really? Or – might I take him in, instead?
And that was that. Forget allergies, parasites, aversion. “Yes.” That was all.
To this day I really can’t imagine how I had the nerve. Well, who knew. This must be what it’s like to have kids. You just can have no warning what it’s really going to be like. So. In a whisker of time, there I was, transformed from a hurt, angry, frightened child in an adult body – to an adoptive parent-guardian and humble student.
How life happens like that, while you’re making other plans.