I heard an interview with Malcolm Gladwell the other day. The interviewer asked him why he didn’t write pieces about his own life experiences. He said that if he had started doing that at the beginning of his career in 40 years he wouldn’t have anything to write about. It made me laugh since Malcolm Gladwell can write a six-page treatise about a thumbtack so how could he possibly run out of anything to write about.
After I heard that interview, it clicked immediately that the reverse if his logic could certainly be applied to a woman of 70 like me. Think about it, I most likely have a bigger pot of life experiences — good, bad, mediocre, sad, weird, funny — to draw upon than Mr. Gladwell has had in his much fewer years, And, these certainly could easily fill up the considerably fewer years I have left to write about all of them.
I thought about starting this tip-toeing into my life experiences with a little light paragraph or two about growing up in a family of 12 in Columbus, Ohio. Those memories are always ready just in the back of the filing cabinet in my head marked, “Childhood.” There was the day the backyard chicken chased my sister, Susie, around the back yard. It later made its way to the butcher up the street for supper. Or, I could write about my first grade class being marched out on the playground when we convinced our teacher that we had seen the Holy Ghost flying around the tower at recess. She, being in charge of guiding us through Catholic beliefs, was a good sport and didn’t tell us it was a pigeon. Or watching the snow come down on my First Communion Day in May knowing that it was a gift from God to match my dotted swiss beautiful dress.
No, this week has been too, too dramatic to write light-hearted memories of Holy Ghosts surprise visits and snow in May. It all started out okey-dokey. I went up and got my new teeth — or, rather my first-ever denture. I was ready for pain, pinching and total discomfort. But, this dentist is good and I had none of the above. Count for the week: 1 positive, 0 negative. That was about to change.
On Friday I decided after seeing a spot of blood on the sheet where Ms. Muffett, aka Rose the Cat, was sitting, I could no longer ignore her pronounced limp. (I had also received a very stern chewing out by my trainer, Christina, on my shoddy care of my animals.) So I made the appointment and, to, supposedly, make her journey even better — and definitely more classy — I bought a brand-new carrier, royal purple. It had, side vents for her to observe the journey and a handy little window at the top to just, as the woman at the pet store said, “plunk her in without any problems.” She does not know Rose. As soon as I tucked her bottom in, she’d pop her head and front paws outside the opening. This went on for a while until I wised up enough to start zipping the end where her bottom was and work only on the head. To say she was not pleased with this venture is to ignore the shrieks, curses, groans and attempts to destroy this $90 purple carrier. When I went in with the vet for his consultation with “Mom” (I do hate that), she had her head resting on the assistant’s hand who kept saying, “She is such a sweet girl.” Anyway, they found nothing wrong with any of her four paws and suggested I get a urine sample from her and bring it in. I had to laugh at the idea of following Rose into the box and putting a large bowl under her to get urine. I answered, “I don’t think so.” Count for the Week: 1 positive, 1 negative. A tie that was soon to be broken.
There are some things that you think will never happen and then when they do you start remembering little scraps of bread-clues that have been left over the past two years. Do we just ignore the signs that we’d rather not think about? Lennie, my dear friend and landlord, came over for supper. It was leftovers and it was a very pleasant night to sit on my porch with candlelight and conversations about the World Series and his granddaughter. When it was time for dessert — which I didn’t have maybe that’s why this happened — he got very serious and said, “Annie, I have to tell you something.” I knew immediately what he was going to say to me but I needed to hear the words. “We’re going to sell the house in April.”
Just like that, my world changed. I’ve lived in this wonderful, light-filled apartment for all the 23 years I’ve been in Toronto. It has been more of a “home” than anyplace else I have lived as an adult. This is where the marriage and divorce with Ned happened. This is where my first two cats died and these two came to live. This is where I planted gardens and had Christmas-eve birthday parties, had two book launches and met a wonderful group of neighbours and friends. This was home. I could do nothing but sit at the table with my head in my arms and cry. Soon I asked Lennie to please leave. I said, “You were my best friend.” As he walked out, he said, over his shoulder, “I’m still your friend.”
And he is. But I have to get over this initial sadness about loosing my home before I can say that to him. I also have to get, soon, to a more positive place so I can start thinking of this experience as holding all kinds of possibilities of positive change and excitement. That’s exactly what I would be preaching to any of my friends who were going through the same thing — ask Judith. I know that nothing positive can come to me unless I’m putting positive energy out there. I’m not there yet, but I will be. In the meantime, I’m telling everyone in the neighbourhood and so are my friends because I definitely want to stay here where I “belong.” If I believe that will happen, it will, eventually. Right Now, the count is 1 positive; 2 negatives with a bubbling of positive possibility perculating in my heart
All Shall Be Well