The storm has been raging all night, a steady relentless lullaby that blocked out the sun and heat that normally wake me. I roll over and open my cell phone to check the time. Three in the afternoon and five new messages.
â€œBro,â€ I peer down at the Border Collie passed out on my feet, â€œitâ€™s morning.â€
He doesnâ€™t even twitch an ear.
I make my voice all high pitched and exciting. â€œBro! Morning snuggles! Câ€™mon Bro, itâ€™s morning snuggles!â€
Bro jumps up, slamming into the ceiling and then crouching and wiggling his way up to my face. Itâ€™s taken him a while, but he can navigate our little bed cocoon pretty well now. He plants a big kiss on my cheek and then rubs his cheeks against me, like a cat. Soon his whole body gets into it and heâ€™s rolling around on his back next to me making snorting noises while I scratch his belly. Morning snuggles are exciting in our little world.
Suddenly he jumps off the bed, dashes into his crate, and barks. Breakfast time. Iâ€™ve long since taken to leaving his food open so that he can eat whenever he wants, but he still likes for me to feed him breakfast. I guess itâ€™s just better when I mix it all up for him in his dish. I crawl out of bed to sit on the new cooler full of caribou and salmon and consider the situation.
Bro has to pee. I have to pee. Last night I stealth parked between overnight employee cars in an otherwise abandoned parking lot, which undoubtedly has turned into a bustling place in the meantime. I think longingly of the bushes I squatted between last night, but I definitely canâ€™t get away with that in the crowded parking lot. I dig through my trash bag and pull out an old yogurt container, the big kind that lasts a week. I squat in the van and pee in it, filling it up and opening my sliding door a crack to dump it out four times before my bladder is empty. I hate peeing in the van, even if it does immediately leave the van. It just seems so wrong to pee in your house.
That done I sit on the cooler again to pull a pair of jeans over my knees, then stand up and bend over the front seat to pull them up the rest of the way. Next is a t-shirt for me, a leash for Bro, and we go looking for that bush in the rain.
I check out my phone while Bro eats his breakfast. One call from a guy I was supposed to be meeting for dinner in a couple hours. When I agreed to it it seemed like a great idea â€“ good food and good conversation (the first time we met, we talked for an hour about the possible socio-biological roots of BDSM and foot fetishes). Now Iâ€™m reluctant. Heâ€™ll want more from me, emotionally or sexually, than I want to give. I call and cancel. He whines.
The other four calls are from my casual summer lover turned obsessively codependent repeat dialer. I turn my phone off.
My food drawer is only accessible from the back of the van, so I have to brave the rain again for my yogurt. I always think of rain as kisses from Goddess, but today her kisses are cold. Settling back into the front seat, I pull my spoon out of its stash spot in the dash and wipe it on my pants. Yeah, itâ€™s clean; I licked it off really good yesterday. I reach under the seat for my stash of raspberries and shake some into the yogurt, where I stir them into the top inch or so. This is my yogurt method: I eat until it gets white again. Then I eat a piece of caribou jerky.
Sitting there in the rain, chewing on my jerky, it occurs to me that thereâ€™s no one in this town I could hang out with now who doesnâ€™t want something from me. In a creepy way. It probably surprises people who know me that this bothers me, because I am generally a little antisocial anyways, for the last few years at least.
Something in me has shifted. Once, when I was sixteen, I lived in a house with two traumatized suicidal women. I spent my nightâ€™s running back and forth between them, taking away knives, comforting them after nightmares, and bandaging scratched wrists as each tried to mind fuck me into loving her more than the other by proving her superior neediness. At the time, I could not have been more fulfilled if I were Mother Theresa. Now I can still be the same way for my friends, but Iâ€™ve finally developed an aversion to crazy dysfunction and needy strangers who pull at my energy with sticky fingers.
I dig out the letter my summer lover gave me the other day. It apologizes profusely for having been so weak as to be her real self around me, and swears to don a shroud of happiness and never show one scrap of realness to me ever again. Unless, of course, I care enough to go digging, but it wonâ€™t be easy and she will not be responsible for what I find. As a symptom of this profound separation from self, the entire letter refers to me in the third person.
I write a letter back explaining that I am not responsible for her emotions or her integrity and she is responsible for bringing her whole self to all her relationships, blah, blah, blah. Then, because Iâ€™m weird like that, I type both letters into the laptop and save them.
At work I dance barefoot and happy again. I realize next weekend is bluegrass north of here and this weekend is another fair in another town and I make more than enough money to live on for a month. I donâ€™t divide it into piles for retirement and student loans like I normally do, either. I pocket it all, and then I creep into my summer loverâ€™s house and leave the letter and some herbs next to her bed where she is passed out, too drunk to return my goodbye kiss.
Iâ€™m sure you can guess what I did next.
Geography is a solution.