One Hundred

photo-34Three years ago today, I was on a plane to Hawaii.  I’ve written a little about that trip on this blog before here.  Yesterday, I was looking at pictures from the trip because I wanted to post a fun one on my friend Kim’s Facebook wall for his birthday.  What I wrote about the trip a few months ago was how the illness of my pet dog, Mandy, was a sad memory woven into that trip.  I will never think of that time without thinking of her.  But looking at the pictures I’d taken, I also remembered something very happy about the trip.

A couple weeks before going to Maui, I met a guy and started dating him.  His name was Eric and from our first date at Damon’s, there was something special about him, but also, something that felt like this relationship was going to be substantial.  It had been a long time since I’d had a boyfriend, probably a few years.  My life was full with friends and dogs and spending game show winnings, but truth be told, I was a little lonely.  But we met and, well, he made me laugh.

Our courtship was very new when I went to Maui and today, I thought about how electric our phone calls and texts and emails to each other were in those few days.  Michael and Kim would tease me when he’d call and I’d go outside so we could whisper sweet, yearning words to each other. And for some reason, I thought about the end of that classic John Hughes film, Some Kind of Wonderful, where after Eric Stoltz gives Mary Stuart Masterson the diamond earrings, he says, “You knew you were going to get these.”  And she says, “I didn’t know, I hoped.”  And then he tells her again that she knew and she admits, “I had a feeling.”  And then Lick the Tins (whatever happened to them?) start singing the best cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” that anyone of my generation has every heard.  

All this is to say that I didn’t know if Eric and I would become a couple, move in together, raise dogs, build a home. But I hoped.  I had a feeling.  A few weeks ago, we celebrated our three year anniversary, at Damon’s, of course.  And when I think about my trip to Maui, I feel like he was there with us, with me, because, in a way, he was.  And when I have a little vodka in my system, I’m apt to tell people that Mandy somehow sent Eric into my life because she knew how broken-hearted I’d be when she was gone.  It’s possible.

I titled this post One Hundred because it’s my 100th blog post.  It’s been a fun, challenging, emotional, humbling, ego-boosting, humbling again, educational six months, but I’m glad I started Easily Crestfallen and I’m thankful for people like you who’ve read, shared, commented, clicked “like”, etc.  I don’t know what the next 100 posts will look like, but I’m enjoying and learning from this journey.  

And I’m also thankful to Mandy, or Whoever it was, that sent Eric into my life. I couldn’t imagine the last three years without him and hopefully, we’ll have one hundred more together.

The Forgiveness Machine

The artist Karen Green has written a book called Bough Down about her grief over losing her husband, writer David Foster Wallace. In a review of the book I recently read, there was talk of an art piece that she built and exhibited in 2009 called The Forgiveness Machine, which is pictured here. Basically you write down something you want to forgive or something you want to be forgiven of and you place it at one end and a vacuum sucks it into the machine and it comes out shredded at the other end. What I read piqued my interest so I googled “Forgiveness Machine” and found a few interviews with Green where she talked about how she came to build the piece and the response people had to it. Of course, the first thing I thought was what would I write on that piece of paper. What would I want to forgive? What would I want to be forgiven of?

In November 2010, I was on Maui with my friends Michael and Kim, on my last night on the island, we treated ourselves to a luau at one of the fancier resorts. Now there are two things you should know about me:
1. I love a Mai-tai and 2. I love an open bar. We had a glorious evening under the stars, watching the show, eating poi and pulled pork, and drinking free Mai-tai’s. I had a few, more than a few. I don’t remember all the details, but at the end of the night, as we were walking to our car through the hotel lobby, I said, “This hotel is so pretty, let’s sit here and talk about what a beautiful night it’s been.” 30 seconds later, I was weeping convulsively. Kind of like an Oprah’s ugly cry, but darker. Uglier.

A few days earlier, hours after landing in Maui, my neighbor who had offered to care for my dogs called to tell me one of them, Mandy was not well and did I want them to euthanize her while I was gone. Mandy had been suffering from cancer, a fatal tumor in her sinuses and I knew her time was coming to an end. I had vacillated between going on the trip and canceling. My neighbor knew Mandy was sick and because she’d had her own elderly and frail dogs through the years, I knew she’d keep a watchful eye on her. I was not prepared for her phone call and I did not know what to do. I thought about coming home immediately. She ended up taking Mandy to her vet, he said that the end was near, but he gave her fluids (she’d become dehydrated) and a cortisone shot, which perked her up a little. Even though I had taken Mandy to my vet just a couple weeks before and she’d assured me that Mandy was in pain, but not so much pain that it was time to put her down. I still felt like I let her down, in fact, just reading these words, I still feel like I let her down.

All of these emotions flooded my rum-soaked heart that night when we were sitting on that couch in the hotel lobby. I started crying and I could not stop for 20 minutes. I was sad that Mandy was dying and sadder because I had failed her as her caretaker, as her father. Michael, who does not drink and Kim, who’d drank less than me, both offered support and hugs. If they were embarrassed by my display of emotion they gave no indication. I’m sure it’s not the first time someone’s cried their eyes out at the Kaanapali Beach Hyatt Regency. Eventually, the three of us pulled me together and we headed to our condo, stopping at another ABC store to pick up chocolate covered macadamia nuts for my plane ride home the next day. A couple days later, after spending about 48 hours with Mandy, I did decide to put her to sleep. It was a sad day, to say the least.

If I could go back in time and do things differently, I would. But I can’t go back. Something people told me during this period is that we make the best decisions we can at the time and just hope for the best. I understand why The Forgiveness Machine resonated with so many people. With it’s bright colored gizmos it presents forgiveness as something convivial and instantaneous. It’s neither, but we wish it was. Forgiveness is not a machine, but rather a process.