July 9, 2011
As we went walking on a trail with her dog Zepher (the dog who saved my life this winter by being my buddy, but whom I am now relinquishing to his rightful owner), my youngest daughter picked up a snail. We both looked at its small, intricate, brown spiral shell. She gently placed him to the side of the path. ”Mom, why do people love snails but hate slugs? Aren’t they the same thing?” It was a rhetorical question. I watched her run down the trail, perfect 18-year old limbs working briskly, the frolicking pup running by her side.
I ponder the question now. A snail has a home – neat, compact and probably without a decent guest room, but a home nonetheless. He takes care of himself. A slug, on the other hand, leaves a slimy trail as he travels through life, rendering leaves of the garden as holey as Swiss cheese. He’s a nuisance. I’m not saying that this is entirely due to his lack of portable domicile, but I’m sure that lack contributes to his non-charm factor. He is the ultimate persona non grata.
I am feeling a bit like the slug at the moment. A few days ago I packed my car with miscellaneous items (and later with a large hairy dog) and stayed with my children until I left town so that renters could move into my house. Nine months of pregnancy? They owe me and it was pay-back time! I arrived yesterday at my parents’ home with the crammed car and the dog, who pooped on their rug today. Yes, I’m a nuisance. Displaced, uncertain, with no home of my own and with bits and pieces of baggage (actual and metaphorical) for other people to deal with.
I have never been known for having much of a self-edit button or for my political correctness. So when I compare my kind of homelessness to those who are truly without a home, please understand that I know it is all relative, that I have been blessed beyond reason, and that I, in no way, am making light of those in a truly difficult situation. However, there is a kind of anxiety that arises when you don’t have your own space, no matter how comfortable the guest quarters are. Yesterday I napped under a picnic table at a rest stop with a dog bed under me and a beach towel for a top sheet. I had to drive straight through from Oregon to Colorado and was beyond tired at mid-day. With no room in my car to lay down and no other way to rest, I got creative in Wyoming, where they doubtless rarely see this kind of creativity. But people let me be, I got half an hour, and was able to complete my trip of fourteen hours without falling asleep at the wheel.
I now strive to feel like a cool, nomadic hippie chick, but in reality I like life’s creature comforts and I like having a space that I can call mine. I have always had that – a room, an apartment, or a whole house to hold my things, to decorate, to curl up in and dream. Now that my dream is coming to fruition, I am having to deal with the more unsettling aspects of taking a year off to travel; namely, the uprooted feeling of being transient.
So, as I prepare for bed tonight in a lovely, comfortable room, but a bed that is not mine, and search through the disarray of my belongings for something to sleep in, I recognize that this period of my life is going to be riddled with uncertainty. It’s not unlike my 12 year old dog learning to use a dog door for the first time. I’m an old dog learning new tricks, and it is all about adapting. It’s not easy, but, as the true free-spirited hippies say, it’s all good.
A toast to new and challenging circumstances! – Catnip