Monday, November 15, 2010
I remember the sound and feel of the receiver as I slammed it down, an abrupt period to my rant. The corded rotary telephone lived in the hall, and once I hastily ended my call, I scurried to the bedroom and looked for the best place to hide. Those mattress springs are burned into my memory, they were all I could see as I waited with baited breath under my sister's bed. Hiding there seemed the obvious choice: all of my Cricket magazines were boxed up and stored under my bed, and there I could only be approached from one side. Huddling next to the wall meant no one could reach me-- or so I thought. Moments later there were the pounding of footsteps, screen doors slamming and voices being raised. We lived in a small house, it didn't take long to find me. I don't remember who pried me out, or the punishment that followed, though I am certain I was grounded. It couldn't have been For Life, even though that's what my parents must have threatened. Here I am, decades later, decidedly Not Grounded. The cause of my parents' consternation: upon learning that I could not possibly bring home a new kitten until after we returned from our once-a-year-family-vacation to my aunt's house in Cleveland, I had called my very sweet neighbor and berated her for not being kind enough to petsit our brand new kitten while we were away. It had seemed such a simple solution in my ten-year-old mind. Now that I am grown, or at least older if not truly grown up, I don't seem to get in much trouble. I don't have anyone looking over my shoulder issuing punishment when necessary. After all these years my feelings towards animals haven't changed much. Though I am meant to be devoting every spare moment of my life to my thesis, I spent today with a friend. Weeks went into planning our meet-up in the middle so neither had to drive more than 90 minutes. There was to be much chatting and catching up on our way to visit a litter of baby bunnies. Some people may wonder at the need for pets, especially coming in to an already chaotic household. Each animal must be fed, cared for and loved, much in the same way as you would a child. Why go through all of that hassle, driving such an incredible distance and repeatedly getting lost (even though the printed out directions seemed very clear this morning before I set out.) I can only answer that dogs and cats love you like no one else. And bunnies, especially brand new baby bunnies, have the very softest fur and the cutest little ears. They are definitely worth the trouble.
When my children are grown, when I am no longer responsible for transportation to piano lessons, karate lessons, swimming lessons, and cub scout meetings, I will sell my car and never drive again. I will ride a bike. Up mountains, down mountains, over covered bridges, through tree-lined, laughter-filled suburban loveliness. Yes, I know. I live many miles from a grocery store. Winters here aren't conducive to open-aired travel. And the last time I rode a bike further than a half mile I was...15? 16? I don't even care. Cars are nothing but trouble, even when you have a husband that knows (mostly) how to fix some of the broken bits. Cars require endless gasoline, they make weird, squeaky, worrisome noises that can ruin a day, they cost a lot of money and depreciate in value. I figure I have another 15 years before I can safely denounce driving. I will be a fifty-year-old woman on a bike, long gray hair streaming behind me, a smile on my face (close-lipped, because of bugs), trouble-free.