Benny and his friend Griffin at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


ANN ARBOR -- FINAL POST -- It’s 1:05 a.m. I’m lying awake on the floor of our home office, staring wide-eyed at the shadowed trees outside. Ron is beside me on the air mattress; Benny is snuggled in his sleeping bag on the floor to my left.

Our plane leaves in five hours. Everything feels unfinished, but I can’t think of a solitary thing left to do. Our luggage is piled in Benny’s empty room, our jackets draped on top. The stroller is folded up nearby. Our taxi is reserved, the cell phones charged. The whole house has been swept, wiped and Windexed in case a buyer with wads of cash turns up with a realtor later today.

Wait … I sit up. I forgot to clear out the liquor bottles. Then I settle back. Nah … we were renting the house to my brother Andy, after all. A full liquor cabinet would only be a plus.

I stretch, and my foot hits the empty cat carrier beside the mattress. Heaven knows where Callisto is right now, probably in the basement, hiding behind the washing machine. She knows something’s up. I’d never flown with a cat before. Do I have the right cat carrier, the right papers, the right pills? How would Callisto react to a sedative? I planned to crush up her pill into wet cat food – I’d even given her a bit before midnight to make sure she liked it. Would it work? What if she spit it out, threw it up …

I sit up again. Did I take the screen door key off my key chain? And what about the donuts in the fridge? Did Andy like donuts? Calm down, Chris, everyone likes donuts. Yeah, but this is Andy …

To take my mind off my rapidly developing psychosis, I think about San Francisco. But the picture is dim, undeveloped. My reality isn’t in California; it’s here, with sighing trees and tinny wind chimes and the faint whine of the neighbor’s lonely dog. Between me and San Francisco stands a daylong airplane trip with a cat, a toddler and a layover in Houston. Try as I might, my imagination can’t bridge that obstacle.

Instead, I think of Ann Arbor: our pretty house; the winding pathway in our backyard; Benny’s school friends; my family, my friends; daffodils in the spring; leaves in the fall. I remember the four-foot snowdrifts I navigated when we brought Benny home from the hospital. I remember the first screening of the “Europa Society” and my neice’s performance in the “Wizard of Oz.” (She was both a munchkin and a monkey – such dramatic range).

We were leaving so much -- whole thing sounded nuts. Who gives up jobs, cars and Mackinaw Island fudge to live in a tiny apartment? Who wants to wait at bus stops, wheel granny carts to the grocery, feed quarters into washing machines? Who wants the hassle?

I turn over and finally, reluctantly close my eyes. Oh hell, I think. Life is full of hassles, no matter where you are. All you can do is choose the hassles you want.

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