There was other stuff.
Stuff that doesn't quite fit into the narrative so far because I don't know where it goes. Or I don't remember where it happened. But it was there, moving the story along. Or if not moving it, was at least along for the ride.
* * * * *
There were lunches with Hakuna. Every so often, we’d get together at a sports bar about halfway between our homes. We’d go there to play NTN (satellite trivia), and sit for hours, through the working lunch rush. We had fun, drinking gallons of iced tea (no lemon) and diet coke, playing scratch cards, chatting, and performing none-too-shabbily at trivia.
The lunches were somewhat therapeutic for me.
Hakuna had met my mother years before, when they were both pregnant and living in the same apartment building in Manhattan. They became friends. And when Emily and I were born, we became best friends, too.
God, there is so much beautiful, funny, unadulterated happiness that I associate with having Hakuna and Emily and the rest of their clan in my life I could not possibly begin to express it.
But getting together with Hakuna always made me feel safe. She wasn’t my mom, but she was a mom, my best friend’s mom, and she knew and loved my mom, so it was pretty close to the same thing. And I could be scared about my mom’s health with her because she was, too.
I confided in her as much as I could anyone.
* * * * *
I didn’t talk to anyone about everything. For one thing, I hardly had any friends at all. For another, I was afraid to talk about it. What would I even say? What was I even thinking? That everything was wrong? That everything was a mistake? No, no. Shameful.
Oh, hey, you know? So I’ve been thinking I might, oh, I dunno, run off to California with some random Internet man because I’m kinda bored. Whaddya think?
* * * * *
There were pets.
I was so very excited to start working from home at a HOUSE with a YARD because it meant I could finally get a dog. I LOVE dogs. LOVE DOGS. LOVE. DOGS.
And so, after extensive research and hours and days and weeks of careful deliberation, I determined I wanted an Australian Shepherd. And so I found a breeder and went through what can only be described as a full-on adoption process. We were interviewed. There was paperwork. There was the meeting of the puppies a few weeks after they were born. We were told which one we would be allowed to have. We paid an ungodly sum for him. And finally we were able to bring him home. I was overjoyed.
But oh. My. God. He was a nutcase.
Now, David was fond of dogs as well, but was always more of a cat person. He’d been the instigator in the “let’s get a cat” decision of March, 1999 when we were living in an apartment building that didn’t allow them.
It had been my assigned duty, after not too much coaxing, to go to the pet store (which had just received home-grown kittens) and pick one up.
I liked longer-haired cats, and very much wanted the one in the litter with the long gray fur and sweet face. But it’s hard not to take home the kitten that jumps on your head. Which is how we acquired Sherlock.
But when Sherlock spent the entire next day howling at the top of his lungs – NOT a good thing when we’re supposed to be hiding his existence – we determined I needed to go back to the pet store and get one of his brothers. Which is how we acquired Moriarty.
(Yes, it stopped Sherlock from howling. No, they never got along.)
So then anyway. In October of 2001 we got a puppy and named him Basker (Hound of the Baskervilles? Get it?). And he was a ton of work and we hired a trainer and I was at home with him all day and worked with him and taught him a ton of stuff and still could not keep up with him.
He was the kind of dog who loved other dogs more than his mommy. I had never seen this behavior in a dog before, and it made me sad. And exhausted.
And the cats hated him. See, Basker, short of having another dog to play with, found that cats would do. My poor kitties would hide from him anywhere they could. But still I’d find them with sopping wet heads from having been the recipient of Basker’s play-with-me-drool-drool-lick-lick fests.
Sometime after the horrible holidays, at my wit’s end, I did the only reasonable thing I could think of.
I got another dog.
This time, there was no deliberation, there was no adoption fee, there was no breeder screening process. I just drove myself to a shelter and picked out the sweetest-faced little girl I’d ever seen.
Which is how Scarlet (A Study In? Anyone?) was added to the menagerie.
* * * * *
Walks through the dog park. Taking Basker to the beach. Later taking Basker and Scarlet through the park.
I know I did that during some of the days. When?
* * * * *
I had never felt less attractive in my entire life.
I was huge. I don’t know how much I weighed exactly, but it was the heaviest I’d ever been. I assume I gained just slowly, over time. Since marriage? Since the house? I don’t know.
But I remember, as plainly as ever, that I felt like what I looked like didn’t matter at all. I could be a complete mess, as plump as I was, and David’s attraction to me didn’t waver in the slightest.
I wanted to lose weight and care about how I looked for myself, but I couldn’t figure out what that meant. “For myself?” So that what? I would be more confident? So that what? I mean, barring health reasons, my friends and family didn’t care about my aesthetic.
The only reason I had ever wanted to be thin before was to attract men. Easy enough. But that was no longer a factor. It didn’t matter if other men were attracted to me. So why was it important to be thin?
Why? I didn’t know. I couldn’t motivate. I felt awful, but I couldn’t motivate.
I wanted to feel attractive. And the fact that I didn’t feel attractive in any way was a constant downer. It came out in all my fits of crying. It came out in all my anger at Dave. It came out in my every day sadness.
I cannot stress enough how greatly I was affected by my weight and my appearance. And I cannot say why (I have no idea) I couldn’t seem to do anything about it.
* * * * *
I don’t know when in this mess it was. I think it was before Marcus. But anyway. Here’s something I’d forgotten until recently.
So right. I was online a lot. Eventually, I got so sad about not feeling attractive that I put up a personal ad. I wanted men to find me interesting. I wanted men to want to date me. I didn’t want to cheat on my husband.
No, really. David knew about my ad. He didn’t feel good about it, but he knew about it. I told him why I was doing it. That it was just up there for attention. I was so lonely. I was so bored. I had no outlets and no confidence in the real world. I let him in on all the responses I got.
Eventually, I had the great idea that he should put up an ad also. That way, he could respond to my ad and it would be like we were just meeting, just dating for the first time again. It would be fun, wouldn't it?
Stop waving that red flag around. I see it.