As I write this, the floor under my feet is vibrating, and a low loud rumble and grinding is going on outside. I'm in my office in downtown Orleans, and out front a crew is putting pipes of some kind into the ground, and ripping up sidewalks to put down other sidewalks. When I approached my building this morning a policeman frowned and shook his head severely at me, and when I waved wildly and pointed behind him toward the parking lot that was my destination, he came over and leaned down to say, You can't get there today.
Dang, I thought. I started to turn the other way, and he said, Where are you going?
Can't I go that way? I said.
Yes, he said, but you have to go in the left lane.
So I had to back up, and there was a big van behind me and the policeman made him back up, and then I turned left and went down to wind around the rotary and came up the other way and turned the wrong way into the one-way driveway into my parking lot and parked backwards.
I figured anyone else coming to work here today would have to do the same thing.
This was my first morning back at my office since My Companion died, a few weeks ago. If I believed that there's a Reason for Everything, I might have taken the navigational difficulties as a Sign that I shouldn't come back to work yet. I might have driven over to the beach to stare at the water, but of course there's construction going on there too. Or I might have gone grocery shopping, but I didn't have my list. Or I might have gone home and tried to get some work done there, but I find that it's no easier concentrating at home now than it was when My Companion was breathing on the other side of the wall.
Of course, there's still a heavy breathing presence at home that is alert to every change in my breathing. I refer not to some ethereal manifestation of My Companion, but to the very physical presence of Thurber and Pippin, the Rescue Squad. When I'm at home they spend 90% of their time lying or sitting within four feet of me; when I shift position, they leap to their feet, ready for me to get food or take them outside or disappear forever.
They were always Velcro dogs, the kind that follow you from room to room. But since My Companion disappeared forever, they have become veritable Klingons. Especially Thurber, who was My Companion's own Companion, who will stand in front of me, staring into my eyes, wagging his tail; he wants something, and sometimes it isn't to go out or to have his water dish filled; sometimes he wants me to stroke his head and pat the floor, and he'll turn around and flop down beside me with a sigh.
I don't know what people do who don't have a Rescue Squad. I can't imagine coming home to a house where not only is no Companion waiting with a glass of wine (or asleep in his chair) but where there is no one barking with frantic joy, no one leaping illegally up to gouge your thighs with his untrimmed nails, no one rushing into the kitchen and rushing back with his mouth full of the last fuzzy toy you brought home for him from the Gift House at the transfer station.
I drop to the floor, the mother of all Klingons, and we sit for a while in a great furry ball of tongues and oxytocin. Years ago My Companion and I rescued Pippin and Thurber from the shelter, and now they're my shelter, and rescue me every day.