And I didn’t know the earwig was alive until I squeezed the mop out in the sink for the second time.
It had been floating in a dirty bowl when I’d done the dishes. And I’d thought “what a terrible way to go.” Drowning. In the panic of not having air, the one thing capable of easing said panic. Monks on mountains using only breath to reach states of mind that overcome the deep miseries.
And it had seemed too late until the mop ran clean and I saw it wiggling its legs trying to get away. But seeing the hope, I scooped it up and laid it gently onto a torn piece of paper bag so that it might recover itself.
And this lady I sit for—AZ— is mostly likely in the process of OD’ing. And the worry she’s dead—or worse, not yet dead, still savable with no one knowing—is with me as I clean the floor. Waiting for some sign she’s alive. Waiting until I see some mountain zone daylight before texting her CA mom, not knowing if I even should. Saw AZ so “asleep” yesterday I almost called an ambulance. She wasn’t supposed to be there; asked me to care for her cats and I found her in her bedroom. Took care of her cats; texted her a cute video of them; texted her again later, no responses. Have been on this addiction journey for a few years with her and her wealthy California family, and Don’t know the entire story. She has a trust fund, no job, and a fraught relationship with her mom (has asked me not to contact her); three cats and a dog, a horse somewhere, copious ordered packages always piled feet high over her porch and expensive furniture tagged and still in bubble wrap in a house she never locks despite a previous break in. Goes Into rehab, comes home; relapses; attracts grifters; admitted to hospital, back home, paranoid; trust fund cut off. The last relapse I arrived to her house destroyed—to the point I couldn’t find her dog who was sitting in the mess—and writing on the walls in Sharpie asking people to find a home for a spider who’s sad and a manuscript on the south wall of her bedroom reaching up as far as her height could take it, saying “…and when I’m alive, I’m alone; and when I’m crazy, I get to be loved. But not really.”
And here, in my “own” life, I walked right into a stick with my right eye yesterday. I’m chronically sleep-deprived, fall asleep anywhere. I have no days off but still had to move residences four times in five years creating permanent residence in “lunatic fringe” and am forgetful and constantly swirling with things I have to do/finish/clean/write/tend to as I actively run in place inside the full catastrophe known as the “American Dream”. And Yet on this Sunday in August 2020 before I leave for work, I’m distracted with another’s life—could paramedics even help her when several bouts of expensive rehab couldn’t?—and Squeezing dirty water out of the strings of my mop, singing Sugar Magnolia softly to myself as I wash the house, knowing already that teams of people with love and money can’t save someone who doesn’t want it. “Sweet blossom come on under the willow,...” as I worry over who’ll take her cats (who hide for everyone but me) if she’s dead/incapacitated. Who will love the things she loved? Who will endure this burning to give some light? “Sugar magnolia, Ringin’ that blue bell…Come on out singing, I'll walk you in the sunshine...” in this morning that is supposedly mine. “But not really.”
And I go to rinse the mop again and see that the earwig isn’t on the paper anymore. I don’t see it when I look around for it in the sink and on the floor. Did it move on its own and is alive or accidentally get knocked off?
And I don’t have any answers, though in some lights, everything that happens is an answer. We look at what feels like ours to claim and we do what we can. Which often looks like nothing except the artful arrangement of our feelings until the worry yields itself to become something else.
And my cats are in their enclosure in the cool of this early summer day. And Julia and Bug are coming over later. And Livy is sleeping a few feet away—her computer still open on the kitchen table just as it was last night when she turned in her essay for History—and as I mop, Kiki‘s shedded Siberian triple coat bunches up in little balls when the mop water hits it. The oil covering each strand repelling the water until each finds one another again like a dream come true.
“Sunshine daydream,…Going where the wind goes, Blooming like a red rose”
And I know as I sing that I can offer my worry and my time and still not help any of us arrive at a better end.
Then back at the sink once more, I rinse the mop one final time and happen to look down at the floor. And there is the earwig. As I watch, it waddles capably along the wall and suddenly veers and tucks itself beneath the fridge.
And I’m surprised and I smile, nodding my head in approval. “Holy shit. Look at you.” [Everything that happens is an answer].
And then, a bit later, I text her mom and go to work, leaving my house, and feeling better knowing there’s that earwig now safe and sound underneath the fridge.