Cape May, 2020. Hey, there's a lighthouse here! I've only been coming down the shore for 50 years, how would I know that?
I’ve really been enjoying this time down the shore. Having full days stretching out in front of me with few, if any, appointments and even fewer expectations has started to unwind my tangled brain. I’m sleeping better (mostly) and just taking every day as it comes.
This week I actually made plans, though. Barbara is off on vacation in the wilds of Colorado and Utah so it’s a good week to spend time with my sisters and visit a few friends.
The first plan I made was to take the ferry from Cape May over to visit my friend, Lauren, in Rehoboth Beach. I like ferries — there’s something about the way they tenaciously plow through the water, efficiently cutting a swath and leaving a wild wake behind. I was ready for the round-trip journey: laptop, books, journal. You’d think I was going on a 12-hour plane ride vs a 90-minute jaunt across the Delaware Bay.
I guess I’ve become a little too untangled, though, because I seem to have forgotten how time works. I misjudged the whole thing and missed the ferry, arriving in time to wave at it as I watched it disappear around the Cape.
Downside, I missed the trip. Upside, I spent the day in Cape May with my sister, Lynda. I saw a lighthouse and we had lunch at a place where the sugar bowls are over 100 years old.
I also made plans to drive up to Bay Head to spend a couple of days with my friends, the Wargos. My tradition of visiting them at least annually started the summer I left my corporate job. They offered me their beach house for a week which was exactly the thing I needed to transition from the toxic world of advertising into the exciting and terrifying world of “creative person with no job.”
Bay Head Beach 2016: contemplating my future.
But — and you may sense a theme emerging here — those plans were dashed when, at 4 am, I heard a terrible thump in the darkness of my bedroom. My dog, little baby Delilah (aged 16), had somehow rolled herself off the side of the bed and was writhing in pain on the floor.
I could tell it was bad; she was panting and holding her little leg up, looking at me as if to say, “DO SOMETHING.” In that moment, in the middle of the night, there wasn’t much I could do except start googling local veterinarians.
In the morning, I found a place that could fit us in between appointments. They spirited her away from me, with promises to call with an update. As I made my way home, my brain re-tangled itself.
Had she hit her head?
Is her leg broken?
Did I break her?
I was wracked with guilt. I should have been more careful. Usually I wake up the minute she starts moving around. I was sleeping too heavily, I missed it. And now she’s alone, in pain, in a strange place wondering what the hell is going on.
I roamed around my place all day, looking for distractions. I did all my laundry. I scrubbed the kitchen floor*. I ate fudge. I ate a lot of fudge.
I figured this is a better picture than the one of me scrubbing the floor.
They ended up keeping her all day. When I finally picked her up she was sporting a fancy, paw print-themed cast.
Diagnosis: fractured metacarpal.
I broke her.
I have to say, she’s remarkably resilient. Within minutes of being home, she was tromping around the place, demanding service. Almost back to normal.
I’m not so resilient. I’m watching her like a hawk, rearranging life around her tiny cast. I’ve deconstructed the couch, made a pillow fort around the bed.
I flipped through my journal this morning, looking for absolution. On my birthday, I wrote this:
TO DO LIST
Support others’ work
Do your work
That’s it. That’s the list. (Also: exfoliate and moisturize, but that really goes without saying.)
I know it isn’t my fault. D’s an old lady with arthritis, cataracts, and a dodgy heart. I seriously do not know how parents do it. If I had a kid, I'd definitely wrap them in bubble wrap.
So, anyway, I’ll just be over here trying to untangle again and throwing a little forgiveness in there for good measure.
*This is a real indicator of my stress level. I was on my hands and knees with a bucket and scrub brush, like the ruddy-faced Irish washer-women descendants who definitely populate my family tree. I usually draw the line at swiffering.