Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Day I Stopped Caring What People Think. Because People That Love You Will Support Your Life Choices As Long As They Don't Involve Cocaine. (Or: The Day I Adopted Sedaris.)

I could you NOT take him home?

It might come as a surprise to some people, but a large part of the past 7 years of my life were made up of rules. While I was still a carefree individual, happy to go with my heart on a few things, the bones of my existence were rigid ideas of Right and Wrong. What I Should Do and What I Shouldn't Do. Black and White. Yes and No. There was little room for "maybes", "why nots" and delicious spontaneity. I had a very specific 5 year plan. And I clung desperately to it, blinders firmly blocking out anything but what was in front of me.

But, the blinders were ripped off. The 5 year plan crumbled. And that's how I found myself sitting on the floor of my Mom's kitchen, holding a puppy I had newly adopted in my lap as I bitterly cried and wondered oh my God what did I just do.


The day before I had first seen the puppy in an unexpected trip to buy cucumbers. (Because that happens to normal people all the time.) I saw him. I held him. I found myself asking when he would be ready to go home with me. My Mom stood next to me, and when I was presented with paperwork she started awkwardly giggling. "Uh...Mel..." she sang, trying to gently pry the puppy out of my hands. "You're're going through a lot right now...are you sure about this, sweetheart?"

I looked down into his little face. And his little paws desperately trying to climb into my shirt to be smuggled back with me to my sad little weird life. And I knew I was sure- but I did the rational thing.  I took a million pictures of him on my phone, stuck them on Instagram, and said that I would sleep on it.

I did this because it wasn't "right." It wasn't something "I should do." I was in the middle of a major life change, I was moving alone across the country, and as timing goes- this specific time to go home with a puppy sucked. A puppy was something you adopted with your husband. One year before you tried for a family. One year after you moved into your first house. 5 years after you got married. These were very real ideas I had about life, and I couldn't shake them.

What the hell was I doing in Ohio...alone...trying to go home with a puppy?

I wrestled with these ideas all night, trying to break down the limiting boundaries I had put on my life, and just as I was about to fall asleep my Mom came into my room and sat at the foot of my bed.

"I think you would be really, really good for that dog. And I think he would be really, really good for you. And tomorrow I'm taking you back to him, and you're going to take him home." 

When I tried to argue she just shook her head sadly. "No- Melissa...I was wrong to doubt you. You've been doubted so much. There is no perfect time to do things in life. So, why not make the perfect time now?"

So the next day we picked him up. After I spent about 32749832749 dollars on new things for him. And as soon as we came home, and he sat in my lap and looked up at me...I started crying.

The weight of this decision- my first decision made alone in a long time- really weighed on me. My Mom found me crying into a pot holder and immediately freaked out. "Oh my God...did he bite you?!"

"No." I wailed. "Well, yes. A lot...but...what did I do?! Everyone is going to think I'm crazy. Everyone is going to think this was a bad, uneducated choice! Everyone is going to think I'm impulsive, and destructive, and making wrong choices! Everyone is going to be so upset with me."

"Who's "everyone"? She asked.

"Everyone." I weakly returned.

And then she said the equivalent to: "Fuck them" but my Mom doesn't really use that word, so it could have been some weird made-up swear because that's what she does. But, she did it emphatically. She emphatically fake-swear-reminded me that this was my life and it was up to me to fill it with the beautiful things I wanted to fill it with. And maybe even the beautiful mistakes I wanted to fill it with. And whatever the hell else I wanted to fill it with.

And then she wiped my eyes on the pot holder. And I blew my nose in to it, because I'm gross. And then I took my new little part of my life out for a walk.

It was the first time he had ever seen grass. As he stood, quivering at the edge of the sidewalk, pacing excitedly back and forth...he looked up at me, as if asking for permission to step into the green unknown. I smiled and nudged him forward.

"Jump in, little one." I said.

And he stepped back.

Readied himself.

And leaped forward.