Friday, November 27, 2015

Post Feast

Yesterday, I gave thanks with a friend's large Sicilian family with deep roots in San Francisco.

We ate shrimp and more shrimp, pasta and more pasta, ham, deep fried turkey, mashed potatoes, winter squash, San Francisco sourdough, several desserts, and we drank lots of wine. The family extolled the virtues of a particular old school Italian spot for pasta, claimed there was only one good bakery to go to for sourdough, and explained facetiously that the difference between old and ancient vines was 40 years. I learned who to ask for help if I wanted to find a good flush of porcini. At the table, four people in as many generations of family members shared the same first name. Jokes, told a thousand times before, rolled out, polished and perfect. I laughed so hard.

Last night I came home very late after the meal that lasted for hours. My dog was happy to see me. My cat crawled into bed and immediately started to snore. I fell into dreamless sleep and didn't wake up—not once—until well into today.

I'm so grateful.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Chiles and Hope

An outsider may think I'm living in a gray cloud in my new post-marriage-implosion reality, yet that isn't true. In many ways, the clouds have lifted in this unexpected life.

From the pots on my sunny deck, I just harvested almost all the ripe chiles: Aji Omnicolor, Cayenne, Pilange, and Chupetinho. A couple times in the last month, I have sat in the sun to eat one, mouth flooded with flavor and pain, my lips numb, sweat jumping up under my eyes. It hurts. I don't do this often. But when I do, the endorphin response is just so strong, and I feel amazing, hopeful, and alive.

I feel like tearing the chiles off the city and stuffing them in my mouth, until I'm crying and happy. I want to string them around my neck, inviting others to chew them off.

I feel hot.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Down One

In the past two and a half weeks, my dog has taken to the habit of sitting immediately behind where I'm standing and leaning into the back of my legs. He didn't used to do this, but now, whenever I'm standing and static, he makes sure to have physical contact with me. My cat, always a fan of of the crook of my arm at bedtime but less likely to choose to cuddle at other times, has recently spent more time in my lap than in years. In fact, nowadays, whenever I sit down, there is dog curled up against me on one side and a cat draped across my lap. They are creatures of deep empathy for whom I'm so thankful.

Because, two and a half weeks ago, the small two-person, two-animal family became no longer when one of the persons decided to leave it. Now it's a tribe of three: a dog, a cat, and me.

My people have been wonderful supports. But, when each day ends, it's just the tribe of three again, and for the millionth time in my life I'm glad I'm an animal person. Upon waking up one recent morning after sleeping on my side with my cat snoring gently against my spine, I remembered a brief passage in C.S. Lewis's The Horse and His Boy, one of the Chronicles of Narnia, a children's series I have read probably twenty times in my life. Here, the main character Shasta is terrified, stranded alone in a graveyard outside the city gates at night, without his (talking) horse and other companions, and something has just startled him by touching his leg.

He looked round; and his heart almost burst with relief. What had touched him was only a cat. 
The light was too bad now for Shasta to see much of the cat except that it was big and very solemn. It looked as if it might have lived for long, long years among the Tombs, alone. Its eyes made you think it knew secrets it would not tell. 
"Puss, puss," said Shasta. "I suppose you're not a talking cat." 
The cat only stared at him harder than ever. Then it started walking away, and of course Shasta followed it. It led him right though the Tombs and out on the desert side of them. There it sat down bolt upright with its tail curled around its feet and its face set towards the desert and towards Narnia and the North, as still as if it were watching for some enemy. Shasta lay down beside it with his back against the cat and his face towards the Tombs, because if one is nervous there's nothing like having your face towards danger and having something warm and solid at your back. The sand wouldn't have seemed very comfortable to you, but Shasta had been sleeping on the ground for weeks and hardly noticed it. Very soon he fell asleep.