I’m hiking with Oscar and Pica—two dogs I sit for—up Emigration Canyon on a deserted trail I’ve never known.
And surrounding us is rustling from bushes and in my latent hesitation, the thoughts start whistling. Is the sound large or small? advancing or fleeing? Will this be that mountain lion up the canyon they warned about, or like that time I walked right past a coyote in a front yard and only saw it once I glanced back and it was silhouetted against the front porch light?
And ahead, a lone howl where there are no houses calls out the better of pushing through on this trail I don’t know, and as we walk out of desolation, in my mind is what I’d do if something (moose, cougar, coyote…) tried to hurt the dogs. I have the will to live, my daughters, pets, a life; yet as the sun becomes a predator, I already know what I’d do if something attacked the dogs. I’d do whatever it took to save them.
And it might seem a grand gesture hollowly-filled by hypotheticals but it eased my mind to push through acceptance of death in exchange for an honorable life.
And as we make our way down the trail back towards the road, Oscar looks back to make sure I’m okay like he’s already done a dozen times and in that one gesture suddenly I’m awake enough to realize that he’d actually do the same for me.
USPS: “Ma’am, we delivered the card to tell you where to pick up the package. That’s what that card is. We couldn’t find your house so we sent the package to the nearest post office and mailed you the card to let you know where to get it. That’s all that is.”
Me: “yes. right. Okay. I get that. But here’s the thing: you emailed my kid several times telling her you couldn’t find our house to deliver her glasses and I’m holding a card that says the package sent usps to my address was undeliverable even though the card saying the package was undeliverable was itself delivered to my house.”
USPS: “That does seem weird. I don’t know/Do you want your package?”
ME: [Unsure; very tempted to pick at this until one of us is crying. Long pause…] “Yes.”
[have package, start to walk out but suddenly realize it’s the hill I want to die on]
Me: “But do you AT LEAST see what I’m trying to say about how insane it is that I’m holding this card that you delivered to the house that you couldn’t find?”
The first coat I “stole” this year: black, enormous, hideous, belonged to James; acquired when he mistakenly included it in the three bags of the girls’ dirty laundry he dropped off into my entryway last December; naturally I kept it, and wore it right in front of him several times, because piss off, douche: I’m not your maid. I looked so bad in it, sometimes I’d laugh when I’d catch a glimpse of myself.
The second coat I stole this year: black, enormous bomb-shelter-wannabe thing, belonged to Julia’s coworker who left it in her car right before moving to Southern California; he knew that I was wearing it, didn’t care, and there were some pretty good FB jokes about the coat that we were then sharing. Wearing the coat in public was embarrassing to the point where even if it was really cold outside, I’d leave it in my car when I went into stores.
So I bought a new coat. A $200 green Columbia. Because I was tired of stolen black coats, and wanted to try and be classy and spice things up, rather than walking around in oversized coats accessorized solely with cat hair but after two months of wearing my new classier coat, I’ve realized that green is a very impractical color unless you’re the type of person who’s okay with walking around and looking like a piece of dirty shit within 3 hours of washing it. Come to find out: I’m not.
Yesterday, in a pile of stuff in our spare room, I found the coat you see in the first pic.
“Whose coat is this?”
“I don’t know; I found it in my car; I think it’s Chris’s.”
She thinks but she doesn’t KNOW. Could be Chris’s; could belong to some random person I’d hate on sight; could be the devils; could belong to that asshole who tailgated me this morning. Besides, we haven’t seen Chris since October; he hasn’t asked for it; he loves me; I need a coat; mind-whirs AND, boom, here we both are, my new coat and I.
I think the take away here is that some people can do being out in public and not feeling ashamed of how bad they look; some people can make the effort, and do classy green coats that look impeccable all the time. And some people just take whatever leftover shit is lying around and call it good.
Note the checked lining though. I bet it’s gonna be my best stolen coat yet.
2/18/2019: Over the busy Presidents Day pet sitting weekend, I somehow came to wear both the green Colombia AND the huge coat from Julia‘s coworker. The latter now sports a tear from a dog jumping up on me which caused the white stuffing to come out in the exact region (if my keys were in my pocket dragging the coat down) where my nipple is which resulted in me walking around in this enormous black coat outfitted with a white fluffy pasty; I may or may not be proud to admit that I forgot about the white fluffy pasty until I was rushing out of the house one morning and suddenly decided to cover it with a piece of black duct tape—believing (falsely, ends up) that I’d sew it later like I don’t even know myself at all— but sewing never happened. So I now have a black duct tape pasty. Which I consider an improvement, both aesthetically and metaphorically. Nothing screams “trying too hard” than a white fluffy pasty.
Then this morning in some leveled up zen bullshit, I accidentally zipped the two coats together, a feat that I didn’t know was even possible but now feels like an entirely fresh story arc. Stay tuned. Big things coming.
Epilogue, Today, 1/15/22: I have since agreed to let the universe judge me as it sees fit for my appearance. It’s really more of a give and take: I find comedy in everything and can laugh at the ridiculous and the Universe gets laughs too as I walk around (wearing yet another hand-me-down [Ellens], ripped coat) in what it assumes is farce but it can’t be sure. She’s wearing a ripped coat from which she leaves little feathers randomly in 5-18 homes each day: does she know she doesn’t have to? Is this ironic fun? No one knows. None of us. Universe on its own exploratory journey now.
And I have nice coats—bequeathed from classier “Universe Verified” people—but in 7/2020, I moved and put a bunch of seasonally-useless things into a Public Storage unit which we stacked so high and precariously that naturally the stack fell over and I’m a few hundred therapy appointments away from facing that. So when yesterday between sits I caught sight of my 53 year old person trying to pull off a level of shabby that—at best—is a job for my 25 year old self, I drove to Target and bought the only coat that fit me—a medium emerald green puffer—yanked the tags off, got a coffee, walked out of the store and called her home to me by spilling coffee on it. And I laughed. It was funny. I didn’t see the coffee on the sleeve and this color makes me look at the most 55.
But this morning, driving to my first sit, I see some shit on the sleeve like some bitch spilled coffee on her or something. Except it’s huge; I didn’t spill this much coffee on it. So it’s more like somehow over the last 12 hours this green fabric got bitter about its divorce. Or maybe sent Jeff Bezos updates to his rocket ship erection and he powered up my vaccine microchip, and now I’m being targeted.
No one knows. The Saga continues; my morning coffee’s only half gone.