wee hours of the morning…

Cecropia moth eggs!

4am. I awake to the dog whimpering. This has become a regular nightly affair as of late, starting with his body shifting in his crate in a way that says “I’m here and I’m uncomfortable,” followed by a couple of high-pitched squeaks that eventually become louder and meatier. “No Stanley,” I grumble into the darkness. I know he wants to go out and eat some grass. After a frustrated grunt, he quiets down, as if he can hear in my voice that I’m on the edge of something. I roll over and try to sink back into sleep, but then I feel that ever so subtle sting in my bladder. I’m afraid to get up for fear of instigating more whimpers, so I wait a few minutes, until the weight in my lower abdomen feels like an utter about to burst with milk. I tiptoe into the bathroom and do my business, imagining myself to be invisible and praying the dog will remain settled. When I slip back into bed, Deena has stretched her limbs over to my side, her bony knee protruding sharply into my thigh. I give her a gentle nudge and with a sleepy moan, she pulls away. Even in her sleep, she knows the drill. I reach for the comfort of my stuffed animal and roll over to face her. Yes, if you must know, I’m a 52-year-old woman who sleeps with a shabby, flat dog that looks as filthy and worn as the stuffed animals I slept with as a child, bearing that slightly sour smell of safety. 

I close my eyes and begin to match my breathing to the hiss going in and out of Deena’s c-pap machine. I listen to the fake ocean waves that can be heard twenty-four hours a day in our bedroom from one of those machines that are supposed to drown out noise, whether it’s distant sirens, or a howling wind that sounds as if it’s going to snatch our home from the earth like Dorothy’s in The Wizard of Oz, or the way-to-early fourth-of –July-ers and their fireworks. I tune into a steady snore coming from Juniper, our other dog, who like Deena, can sleep through just about everything. I am hoping that these rhythms will rock me back to sleep. 

And then the thoughts begin to trickle in, gently at first, but persistent none the less. I try to pretend they’re not there, try to camouflage them with fluffy pink clouds moving by like I sometimes do when I’m meditating, and when that doesn’t work, I focus my attention on memories of swimming in the sea with wild dolphins. But before I know it, the trickle grows into a flash flood, and I can no longer keep my eyes closed. I stare wide-eyed into the blackness— I’m sure if someone could see me, I’d look like a deer paralyzed by headlights, both curious and terrified. 

What are we going to do? 

These words take over everything. They encompass the fact that Roe v. Wade was overturned roughly 72 hours ago by the Supreme Court, making it clear to women like myself that we have no voice, no choice, no power, no value.

What are we going to do?

My thoughts wander into knowing that my marriage to the beautiful woman lying next to me is next on the straight, white, Christian men’s chopping block. It doesn’t matter that we’ve been devoted to one another for going on twenty-five years and have two grown children. It doesn’t matter just how much we love and adore one another. The fact is, our relationship will be violated by rich men in business suits, and the hundreds of dollars we once spent on wills and powers of attorney and co-adoptions to buy a fraction of the same protection and dignity that straight couples automatically have will once again become more than precautions. 

What are going to do?

The roar of thoughts then turn to my aging parents and a recent situation that has me questioning if I will see them again before they move onto the next life, for it feels as though they’ve got their bags packed and ready to go, and I can’t lie, the little girl in me feels abandoned, and at the same time, I can’t pretend that if I were their age, I wouldn’t be eager to get on the next bus out of this messy world. 

What are we going to do?

My thoughts spiral into the fact that more than half of our income is suddenly disappearing, and my belly fills with acid and embarrassment, knowing that no other 52-year-old is supported by their parents like this. I know I’ve taken it for granted at times, and now my fearful, muddled, shame-ridden parts can no longer see the difference between spoiled and blessed, between gratitude and regret, between generosity and control. It doesn’t help that we just signed a three-year lease and our rent has gone up. It doesn’t help that I was a stay-at-home mom and then built a business from the ground up that crumbled due to Lyme disease and that I am still haunted by flares each time I find myself under an inkling of stress. It doesn’t matter that I chose to combine my own healing with that of my struggling son, that I made juggling therapy and boarding schools a full-time job. It doesn’t help that Covid happened, and the thought of going to work after barely leaving my house and my dogs for the last two and a half years terrifies the bejeezus out of me. NONE of these things look good on a resume. At least I finished the first draft of my book, but will it ever be more than a “shitty first draft?” I feel a profound grief as I call myself stupid and reach for the iPad and scour the internet for jobs and tiny houses and the safest and cheapest places for a pair of ex-pat lesbians to live. 

What are we going to do? 

My mind turns to the moths in my studio, the Luna moth I had to rescue from its own cocoon yesterday, the sixty or so Cecropia eggs that will be hatching in a few days. I worry that I won’t be able to care for them if I get a job, and it feels a little bit risky, but better than setting the eggs outside in the crook of a cherry tree where they would likely become bird food. I wonder if this too, this scary, infuriating, and confusing time, is metamorphosis. My insides feel like soup. 

6am. The bedroom is filled with a dim light and the birds have begun to sing. Deena’s breathing has become shallower, and she’s swallowing air through her c-pap mask, and I nudge her every so often so her stomach doesn’t turn into giant painful bubble. Soon it’ll be time to get up. We have plans to go shopping at Trader Joe’s– a step toward breaking our privileged addiction to Wholefoods delivery. I haven’t been to a grocery store since Covid began, and so to pull this off, I figure it’s best to get there just as they’re opening, to beat the crowds and traffic. I hear one of dogs shaking off their sleepiness, and expect any moment, they will both make it known that they need to pee. In the meantime, Deena pulls off her mask, rolls over and asks what I’m doing while snuggling up to my side. 

“Writing,” I say, grateful for a container for the thoughts, grateful that my heart keeps wanting to express itself, despite the chaos, grateful for the way words can be a salve to all the aches and uncertainty and also bring me back around to what really matters.

What are we going to do? 

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