When things get quiet

For a while, it was all “lights, camera, action” — with strange, fascinating, and devastating events and developments staring me down at just about every traffic light and street corner that I either stopped at or rolled up on. But now, things have settled down into this sinister, ominous calm, and in addition to life feeling a little anticlimactic (by comparison), days leave me feeling dizzy and disenchanted as they pop up and then dip out uneventfully, and nights have become terribly, awfully quiet.

 

And this quiet — this lack of activity, this absence of engagement, this silence for sound.. this is what it feels like:

Like I’m carrying a dead person and their memories around on my back. I can feel the solid weight of their arms of legs dragging me towards the ground; the hardness of their skull clanking against mine. It’s a heavy load. I’m just waiting to feel alright again, and I feel like that means, eventually, dumping this body off on the side of the road somewhere.. when I’m ready to. And when it’s ready to let go. When the time comes for both of us to move on, and when it seems right for both of us.

 

This is what it looks like:

An empty parking lot on Christmas day. Have you ever driven around town on a big holiday? Yeah? Then you know that parking lots are truly deserted. There could be leaves rustling across the concrete, and there might be some wind howling.. but there are no faces, and no voices; just stark silence. You can probably picture it.. the absence of motion. You can probably even kind of hear it — the profound “nothing” in the air; the stillness of the atmosphere. It’s almost otherworldly. Ghostly.

 

What is smells and tastes like:

Old shortbread cookies.. stale. Forgotten in the cupboard above the sink. Completely unremarkable.

 

I really just want to sleep all day after I’ve slept all night. Instead, I get up and take care of the dog. I go through the motions of keeping the house clean for showings,and I eat salad as a kind gesture towards – an investment in – future, “happy” me. I’m assuming he’ll exist, anyways. In an effort to be cautious and responsible, I wear my gear when I skateboard and my armored leather “everything” (pants, gloves, jacket) when I hop onto the motorcycle. I brush my teeth and floss every day, because getting a cavity certainly won’t help anything. I pay the bills, bathe, and smile when anyone’s around. At work, it’s easy to be happy;  I become preoccupied, lost, in a job that I love, and I’m honestly able to – for the most part – forget about my own, weird, personal reality. But the human element, outside of work, has been difficult for me to handle.. to deal with. Here are just a few recent “incidences. ”

 

  1. Like, I’m just trying to order coffee right now..

I dipped into a coffee joint downtown a little over a month ago. I walked inside, with my backpack hanging off of my left shoulder and my beanie fitted snugly on my head, and approached the front counter. A bohemian-looking girl (presumably in her early 20s) stood behind it, smiling at me. She asked what I wanted to order (just a peppermint mocha latte, please).

“Sure thing,” she answered, grabbing a paper cup and a sharpie. “And what’s your name?”

“Jace.”

“Ooooooooh, Jace!” She set the cup back down, my name now scribbled onto it, and rested both of her elbows onto the counter, leaning forward and staring up at me. “What does Jace mean?”

“What does it mean”? I thought to myself. What do you mean, “What does it mean?”

“It’s.. just a name, really,” I responded quietly (but politely).

“Okay.. wow, I LOVE your necklace!” She then reached over the counter and proceeded to hold the blue-green glass pendant (with the Jewish symbol for the word ‘dream’ etched onto its surface) between her fingers. “Where did you get it?”

“At the Moss Rock Festival a few weeks back,” I answered her quickly, shifting the weight of my body onto my right foot and gazing down, automatically, at my own shirt, her wrist directly in my line of vision.

“And what about the other one.. this here?” She moved her fingers and nodded towards the other pendant I had strung onto the same leather string: it contained the silver outline of a fox with the words “magic” and “adventure” engraved on the back.

“That one I got at Books, Beans and Candles — a small shop downtown.”

“Oh yeah! I’ve heard of that place! I should really check it out sometime. How often do you go there, Jace?”

Is she.. asking me to invite her there? I wondered to myself. Like.. does she want me to go WITH her? Is this flirting? Is that what’s happening to me right now? Very quickly, I responded: “Never. I’ve only gone like once in the last year.”

She moved her hand away slowly, settled it onto the counter, and then she looked at me for about five seconds straight without saying anything (apparently, waiting for me to say something). I dropped my eyes to the floor, honestly wanting to just walk out and leave without the peppermint mocha latte. Finally:

“Well alright then, Jace. Have a great day.” And, with a very swift turn of her body, she stormed away from the counter, her black, fishnet stockings a dizzy blur as she disappeared into the back of the store. Jesus.

 

2. We’ll update our records.

There’s this place in Hoover — a store that will buy back your gently used, trendy (subjective) clothes. You might know the name of it. Anyways, in the wake of some recent and striking self-revelations, I had about 4 bags of clothes that I needed to haul out of my closet, and after objectively assessing the situation, I decided that some of these articles of clothing might qualify as “trendy.” I donated three of the bags to a local thrift store and then took the fourth one by this “buy back” store, hoping to make a couple of dollars that I would, most likely, turn around and spend on a Chipotle burrito. I walked into the “buy back” store on a Sunday afternoon, dropped off my items, and got an ETA on how long it would take for them to review and process my bag. “About an hour,” the trendy hipster girl wearing a dainty muscle tee and silver-gray hair informed me.

“Sounds good! I’m going grocery shopping, but I’ll be back soon.” As per usual, you’re giving out too much information. You’re so lame, I shook my head at myself.
“Kay,” she answered.

I returned to the store just a little over an hour later (true to my word, I had gone grocery shopping) and took my place in line, waiting to cash out any of the items that they had deemed trendy and worthy of purchasing from me (here I’ll mention that I had strategically placed a denim, mini-dress from Urban Outfitters at the very top of the bag; yep — they took it!). Once I reached the front of the line, another hipster (this one had streaks of purple in her hair) looked up at me quickly, smiled cutely, and asked for my name.

Jaceeeee,” the girl echoed me. “Nice name,” she murmured absentmindedly, pressing keys as she, I assume, pulled up my “file” in the system.

“Thanks!” I smiled down at the counter.

She handed me $9 (YES! Precisely enough for a burrito) and directed me to the manager of the store, who was at the very end of the counter, holding onto my bag of unpurchased items and waiting to return them to me. I recognized her – this manager – immediately; we’ll call her Ally. I had, five years before this date, worked at a local credit union as a teller and had waited on Ally dozens of times. She had known me as Rose then; the hippie girl with long hair and a “thing” for making hemp bracelets.

As the purple-haired girl called out to Ally that Jace was ready to pick up her (ouch; it always hurts) unwanted items, Ally stopped short and looked at me. “Jace?” she repeated softly. She looked down at the ticket. “That’s strange.. we have you in the system as Amber Rose.”

“That makes sense; I used to be Amber Rose.”

Her face lit up knowingly. “I remember.” She paused and smiled at me, her eyes wide (ohhhhhhh, so you wanna be a BOY now). She was wearing a black, cropped top that fell half-way down her stomach. High rise, acid-wash jeans hugged her hips. Her arms were covered in black-ink tattoos. “We’ll be sure to update our system, Jace.”

 

“Thanks!” I smiled, nodded and left quickly, hurriedly locating the big, blue donation bin in the middle of the parking lot and tossing the bulging bag of skirts, dresses and cardigans into its mouth.

 

3. Yeah.. that’s really more of a porn star name, isn’t it?

I’m not even going to be detailed on this one. We’ll keep things vague. Someone in the public asked for my name  last week. When I told them that it was Jace, they asked: “So what made your parents decide to name you Jace?” Interesting question, huh? 

“Actually, I chose Jace. My parents named me Amber Rose. I grew up and realized that it didn’t really.. fit my personality.”

 

“Yeah.. Amber Rose is more of a porn star name, isn’t it?”

.

“Well. That is what the kids in school used to say.”

 

(I was going to insert a photo of willthereal Amber Rose pleasestandup here, but they were all a little too risque for my liking. Google the name if you care to.)

 

4. Jack fruit made me cry.

I’ve been trying to cut down on expenses recently, and one of those expenses is groceries. While shopping at Whole Foods this morning (carefully weighing options, comparing brands, calculating costs and picking up ingredients for salad, pasta, and homemade cookies), I saw him — Chris; my ex-husband — working in the produce section, chopping fruit. I stopped by the counter to greet him and to hand him money from the recent sale of our old living room love seat, media stand and coffee table. “Hey, thanks!” he smiled warmly, coming around the corner to take the cash and greet me. I smiled back at him. “So! How’s your week going?”

“Good,” he answered brightly. “Want to try a piece of jack fruit?”

“Sure! Yes, definitely.” This is so totally normal. Talking. Seeing you. Accepting your proffered piece of jack fruit.

 

He returned to the back to cut off a piece and then walked back out to the front and handed it to me; he was about two feet away from where I was standing. I bit into the piece of jack fruit and complimented its mildly sweet taste. He returned to the work area and we continued to make small talk from either side of the counter. He chatted about his new dog, a 3-legged mixed breed that he had found wandering along the side of the road a few weeks back. “Taco?” I quizzed him. “You’re really naming the dog Taco?”

 

He mentioned a new anime TV show that he’d started binge-watching on Netflix. It sounded interesting; a girl in Tokyo who tries to put a band together. I told him I’d totally check it out sometime.

 

I asked how his thumb was doing — he had accidentally cut it the previous week and had to have 8 stitches applied to the area. “It feels weird, but it doesn’t hurt at all,” he responded simply.

 

He talked briefly about David Bowie, Seasick Records, and a new track he was working on. I said that I was going to go ahead and check out, but that it was really nice seeing him. He nodded, smiled. I quickly rounded the corner with my cart and paused on the baking aisle — unrefined flours, fair-trade chocolate bars, and tiny, over-priced boxes of organic baking soda were all perched statically on the shelves bordering the aisle. A woman carrying a basket passed by me, on my left. I stared ahead at a container of ginger mints that were eye-level for about 30 seconds. Tears were welling up in my eyes and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Right there; he was right there, just a few feet in front of me. But it felt like he was light years away from me. I took a deep breath, made a beeline for the nearest register, and fled the store.

 

 

It’s an interesting and disconcerting thing to pass through; losing all romantic feelings for a person while retaining a deep, genuine, and unconditional love for them. It’s a very strange sort of hell. There is a sore, tender part of my heart that still holds onto him — that will always belong to him; a small but substantial corner that is simultaneously light and dark, strong and sensitive.. a corner that beats steadily, with life, and aches to death. A mental image of his smile squeezes the corner; my heart tightens and it hurts. In my mind, a memory — an audible recollection of his voice, his laugh — pierces right through the muscle and leaves the torn and trembling flesh feeling raw. It is simply too much to handle right now. So, as is my custom, I process my grief by shelving it. I keep a buffer zone of carefully crafted defenses there at the corner, vigilantly guarding the perimeter, and let nothing come close to touching that part of me. I scarcely even allow my own thoughts and feelings to wander there. It’s sacred ground; it’s also as dangerous as quicksand.  The grief, if taken all at once, would equate to a dosage so close to being lethal that I won’t even chance subjecting myself to it. Instead, I take the grief off of the shelf and process it slowly.. early in the morning, a few words on a page. When I’m feeling stronger, more clear headed, strings of words (maybe three or four lines); I work myself up to a couple of pages, and on my bravest and strongest days, I can make it through an entire chapter. Eventually, maybe someday, I will have accepted and experienced and read all of it. Right now, all I can tell you is this: The essential loss of a soul who I loved more than any other person on the planet has left me feeling pretty damn leery of investing myself so fully in another human being ever again, and that’s why I’m here tonight.

 

Here?

Here: Church Street Coffee. Sitting at a table in the back of the store and trying to take care of myself. It’s another local coffee joint (one that I can now cross off on my list as “visited”). I’m on an unofficial endeavor to purchase a beverage from each locally-owned coffee place in Birmingham; so far, I have 5 cafes under my belt. Stay tuned as, in coming months, I’ll publish my findings.

 

I was lying in bed at 5:15 this evening, contemplating foregoing dinner and falling asleep for the night, when I decided that I needed to get the hell out of the house. I had taken Bruster (the German Shepherd) for a long hike earlier on in the afternoon, so I knew he’d be content at home without me. I topped off his water, let him outside again, and poured two cups of expensive-ass dog food into his silver bowl. I took a shower, slipped into some black jeans and rainbow Vans, and tugged an outer-space T and blue/yellow beanie on over my head. I thought about wearing my recently purchased tie.. it usually makes me feel better.. but the thought slipped from my mind as I pulled my laptop out from underneath the bed and slid it carefully into my backpack.

 

 

I left the house via the garage door, ducked into my Neon and googled “coffee birmingham.” I decided, due to the fact that it was open until 10 PM instead of 8 PM, to give Church Street Coffee a go. I GPSed my way to the place, walked inside, and began to feel the melancholy – like a heavy, wool jacket – slip off of my shoulders. I ordered a peppermint mocha latte at the front counter from a girl with short, blue hair (I looked up just now and she’s actually dancing in the lobby) and then situated myself at a small table in the back corner of the room. The lights in here are dim. There is, to my immediate left, a study group (4 persons) pouring over books and laptops at a table, a pair of teenage girls (who look like they just finished working out) sitting cross-legged on brown leather chairs, and a couple sipping on drinks and sitting at a small, two-person table off in the distance. Another guy (sitting near the bookcase, which is currently featuring a book about deer and a display of Alabama honey) is wearing headphones and working on his laptop (like I am), except he’s actually a guy, and I’m stuck in this body.

 

As you can probably tell, I’m still in the process of making peace with my decision to transition without surgery or hormones. It’s a decision that I’m absolutely committed to (because I’m firmly and wholly unwilling to toy with my body’s natural biology/chemistry), but it still hurts. I reason through the whole situation quite often — I sort through the facts, feelings and desires and apply logic to them and, every single time, I arrive at the same conclusion (which is: you’re stuck; you’re going to be a biological woman forever and you might as well get OVER it), but it still f*cking hurts. Logic and reasoning aside, there is still a deep sense of loss inside of me that I don’t think I’ll ever really “recover” from. To cap off the evening, here’s scenario 5:

 

You’ll always be a ma’am to us, Jace.

 

I stepped into Urban Outfitters yesterday afternoon and thought to myself: “You know what? I’m not even going to play around today. There just isn’t time for it. I’m not going to mosey, stupidly and aimlessly, through the women’s section FOR SHOW and then casually, accidentally? slip into the guys’ area.. nope. Today, I’m going there STRAIGHTAWAY, and you know what? No one’s going to give a single shit, and some people might even think that I’m actually a guy shopping in the guy’s section.”

 

So, bravely and boldly, I embarked on my mission.. and I kid you freaking not. About 10 steps into the store, as I was heading directly for the dude’s graphic tees, a male associate with long, blonde hair called out kindly (but almost interceptingly): “Anything I can help you with today, ma’am?”

 

Jee. Zusssss.

 

I laughed a little (what else can you do?) and smiled at him. “Nope — but thanks! I appreciate it.”

 

We’re sorry, but we are unable to validate your inner identity at this time. Please try back again later.

 

So, obviously, I’m still figuring it all out. This coffee shop is closing in about 15 minutes (the owner just walked over and gave me a complimentary cinnamon raisin scone; giving this place 5 stars!), so I’m going to drive “home” and sleep for awhile. Tomorrow is going to be wonderful.. even better than today was. I’m going to pet Bruster, prepare a salad, and tote this haunted body around some more. A few closing thoughts:

 

  1. Don’t make your happiness dependent upon someone or something you can’t control. It’s a dangerous way to live. Enjoy the friendship and companionship of others, sure, but make sure that you’re able to enjoy your own company (because someday, that very well may be the only company you keep).. and if, presently, you discover that you really DON’T enjoy your own company, spend some time getting to know yourself. Make changes if you need to, make changes if you want to. Just do you.
  2. If you’re ever feeling really down and out, get out of the house. Speaking from experience – it honestly helps.

 

IMG_20160111_130541
My first tie.

 

Aun Aqui

If you love something

I’m sitting in a cafe downtown this afternoon — at a local health food joint called Golden Temple. I perused the aisles for a solid twenty minutes when I first got here, taking in the sights (alternative brands of chips and cookies, locally sourced produce, and a whole entire onslaught of vegetarian “meat” options), sounds (about 10 minutes ago, Enya’s “Sail Away” briefly interrupted two lengthy and ambient instrumental tracks), and the interesting aroma pervading the store (it’s a sweet and spicy scent that makes me think of cultural food, botanical perfume, and organic paper packaging; that is a thing now, right? Organic paper?). After gathering a few items in my hands (namely, a carob and peanut butter-flavored protein bar, two bags of alternative chips: Barbara’s white cheddar cheese puffs and Peeled Snack’s baked peas, a small box of patchouli incense and two new stickers for my guitar case: “Don’t hate — meditate!” and “Imagine good things”), I checked out at the register and then checked into a wooden booth in the adjoining room (aka, M-F, cafe), where I can now hear Enya a little better over the speakers and the scents have all settled down into being a background sensory experience. The protein bar is already history and I’m about a third of the way through the bag of white cheddar cheese puffs. You know, most people are so nice and moderate about these things; they push the plate away with a little food still left on it, or elegantly toss the last half of their Chipotle burrito into the trash, and they definitely have those special, official “chip clips” in the cupboard at home… the ones that they use to seal and then reseal and then reseal (again) the same bag of chips… grabbing a handful of chips here, just a few to go with X (potato salad, a sandwich, a burrito) there, and making that single freaking bag of chips stretch out over a period of days. My bag lasts minutes. That bag, coupled with a protein bar, is my meal. 

 

Anyways — returning to the title of this post: if you love something… what? I know the end of this phrase; do you? Pause and brainstorm (if you need to), and then scroll down to either confirm your suspicion or view the spoiler.

 

Here it is, and it’s simple:

If you love something, set it free.

 

I’d like to share a few (2) recent (and personal) applications of this phrase.

 

Numero Uno: Set Them Free (People)

For those of you who have read any of my previous blog posts (especially the most recent two), you already know that I filed for a divorce on November 24th. This is an abbreviated version of the story (and the one I relayed to my tattoo artist; you can read the full account of the event by clicking here):

“He (Donovan) powered the needle on and asked “Ready?” before he started. Yes; ready. And there it was; that familiar burn. I wanted to jerk away from it and surrender to it all at once, all in the same feeling. I sighed. Yes, there it is. I’m feeling something.

“Well,” I began, “I’ve been married for 5 years. I just realized that I was gay this year and we’re getting divorced on Tuesday.” I stopped. Yeah.. that’s all, really, I thought to myself. That’s f*cking it.

“Well that’s weird,” he perked up immediately, suddenly in the room with me, “because I knew you were gay the second you walked in here.”

 

There you have it.

 

And by filing for a divorce, two great things happened: Chris became free to pursue greater happiness.. and guess what? So did I. He would have to define the value of his freedom and the cause of his happiness, of course, but for me, I’m happy because I am free to express, further find, and develop myself. We’re both on journeys – walking our own, individual paths – and while our routes certainly crossed and overlapped for a significant span of time, benefiting both of us, by the end of November, it had become time for us to part. I would liken the separation to breaking a bone (which I’ve never done). Rumor is that it’s an excruciating experience, especially painful during the process of breaking — that it’s sensitive and tender afterwards (as your body heals), and that even once you’ve healed ‘all the way’, you’ll still flinch at the memory of the bone breaking; that, from time to time, phantom pains may haunt and disturb the affected area… but by the end of it all, the broken bone has transformed itself into a healed bone that is stronger than ever before. More difficult to break, and more resilient. Also: it’s badass. Completely and totally badass. You broke a bone and then lived to tell the tale — ROCK. ON. with your BAD self. 

 

So; I loved Chris enough, and myself enough, to make the painful, NOT easy, NOT preferable decision of separating. I set us both free. And now we’re slipping and standing and struggling and seeking to shape our futures into whatever we want them to be. We’re planning, crafting, and creating. Determining our own destinies. Penning our own prophecies. We’re writing down and playing out our own stories, and it’s beautiful.

 

Here, I’ll shift gears and accelerate right into the second application of “setting something free” because of love. It’s a sensitive subject, because it just happened yesterday. I’m talking about Bunny Town.

 

Numero Dos: Set Them Free (Animals)

If you’re “friends” with me on Facebook, then you’ve heard about, read about, and known about Bunny Town for quite some time now. Bunny Town is a magical, whimsical, and enchanted land that is inhabited by two adventurous, mischievous, and adorable little rabbits: Hiro and Panda. 

bunny town inside
Bunny Town was originally founded on December 21st, 2013, and it has stood strong and flourished happily since then. Until yesterday, anyways.

 

Two years ago, exactly four days before Christmas (12/21/2013), Chris and I drove about an hour outside of Birmingham into a countrified city I don’t remember the name of. We pulled off of the road and into a gas station parking lot (it was an old-fashioned gas station that appeared to be out-of-business). A red pickup truck was also parked in this same gas station. We all emptied our vehicles, exchanged bunnies for dollars, and then returned to our cars. I sat in the passenger’s seat during the ride home, gently holding onto a small brown box that contained two 8-week old rabbits, and cried tears of joy, stroking their soft, furry backs, gazing into their eyes, cooing over their tiny feet and noses, and adoring their preciously floppy ears. The female rabbit (black and white), who I named Panda, has a beauty mark near her cheek, to the left of her nose, and the male rabbit – Hiro – dons a permanent mustache. Ridic. They are pictured (as infants) below.

 

baby buns.jpg

 

Over the course of the next two years, Panda and Hiro enjoyed living life as “indoor rabbits.” As toddlers, we housed them in Bruster’s old XL-sized dog cage – – which was actually significantly larger than your typical, store-bought rabbit hutch. Still, this didn’t afford enough room for two rabbits (not in my estimation), so the buns were soon surprised with a playpen (and then, a few months later, a SECOND playpen that connected onto the first playpen, thereby forming a DOUBLE playpen) where they spent the rest of their adolescence zipping down the hallway, “binkying” (what on earth is a bunny binky? Watch this video to find out!) in the guest room, and hopping around the garage. They always had plenty of room to roam and were constantly supplied with fresh water, sesame stick treats, noise-making ball toys and generous handfuls of organic produce (kale, parsley, cilantro, spinach, broccoli and others).. but something was missing. They longed to be outside; I knew they did. And they belonged outside.

 

As a human being, in general, I am nothing close to being ‘domestic,’ and I also didn’t grow up with ‘farm smarts,’ so caring for rabbits [planning their weekly diet, changing out their litter pan (vomit), and providing some simple forms of entertainment, such as a ‘bunny bowling set’ purchased at the thrift store back in ’14] was a learning experience for me. I knew that they needed room to move around in, and I made sure that they had it. I fed them, I petted them, I watered them and I watched them grow. Simple; easy enough. But their life still seemed so drab.

 

I tried, once, to get them outdoors. Chris and I moved their playpen outside last spring, along with the old dog cage (we put a water bowl, a food bowl, and a few toys on the floor of the cage and then left the cage door open so that the rabbits could come and go freely into the play area). We broke down a piece of cardboard (thanks, Amazon!) and draped it over the top of the cage so that the rabbits could take cover from the sun (if they wanted to), and on that perfectly cool and sunny spring afternoon, the buns had a BLAST. They moseyed all around the new outdoor area (this “enhancement” to Bunny Town, if you will), binky-ed like mad, and I felt like a very proud parent that day.

bunny town outdoors.jpg

I fell asleep that night and woke up the abruptly the next morning, startled out of my sleep by a loud boom of thunder. I hadn’t checked the forecast in a few days, but – apparently – a pretty bad storm had been on the radar and was here now. After my nerves had settled down a little, I fell back onto the pillow, adjusted the covers around me, and tried to recall what I had been dreaming about. Then – just as suddenly as I had woken up – I was startled by the sad realization that the buns – my rabbits – were outside in this hell.

 

I scurried out of bed and flew down the stairs — ran to the side door, fumbled with the handle, stumbled out onto the porch (which had already begun gathering sizable puddles), and looked down to my left, feeling like laughing and crying at the same time. Panda’s face was drenched and she was sitting sadly near the water bowl. Hiro’s adorable little head looked slick with water and he was actually wearing a scowl. The cardboard cover had collapsed underneath the weight of the rainwater, causing a steady stream of water to pour down – from either side – into the play area. The thunder boomed again, lightning struck off in the distance, and the rain continued pouring down on all three of us — completely unabashed.

 

The rabbits wouldn’t cooperate with me; they refused to hop into the plastic blue box that I usually used to transport them between rooms. Instead, they just sat there, looking miserable, acting miserable, and probably feeling miserable. I let the plastic blue box fall to the ground and stood there beside them, just outside of their playpen, barefoot and soaked.. looking miserable, acting miserable, and feeling helpless to help them.

 

The buns were moved back into the house later that afternoon. We eventually rigged a new set-up in the garage, and after relocating them one last time, that’s where they lived: in the garage. Until yesterday. And why, you’re probably wondering, did I just now decide to “rehome” them — to “set them free”? 3 reasons.

 

#1: The divorce was a major stimulus in me deciding to relinquish them. Chris had, while living at home with me, been hugely supportive in caring for and cleaning up after the buns, and when he left, I really felt the absence. It pretty much happened all at once, and it was a lot to deal with; there were too many responsibilities for just me to take on: keeping up with the house (it’s still on the market; I’m mopping floors and washing walls on a regular basis, which is way more than I’ve ever cared to), taking care of Bruster (the floppy-eared German Shepherd), paying the bills, finding time to look after myself, AND managing these two feisty and regal rabbits. I was stressed to the max. And that’s a super unhealthy way to live.

 

#2: I didn’t know (and still don’t know) where I was (or am) going to live — a house, an apartment, or an unused room at a friend’s place. It’s all up in the air right now, and in addition to my future living arrangement being contingent on the house selling, it’s also entirely dependent upon what’s available in the market when the house sells, so until that time comes, I really won’t know exactly what my options are. I didn’t want to drag the rabbits into an uncertain living situation (which is what I’m, inevitably, heading into). Me and a dog — that I can handle. But I couldn’t worry about them, too.

 

#3: They deserve more than #thatgaragelife. Wherever I end up — whether it’s me renting an apartment, or renting or buying another house — they deserve to be happy, really happy, and that means having the option of living outdoors. Rabbits are farm animals, you guys; they love adventuring, and digging, and bouncing around, and I want them to do just that. Bunny Town to the max. Without walls, sans borders, and without bounds.

 

I shared the availability of the buns and my desire to find a loving home for them on Facebook several weeks back, and a handful of friends (as well as friends of friends) expressed interest. Ultimately, I decided to give them to a woman living on a horse farm in Tuscaloosa. She was very kind in her messages, very excited to take them in, and she had previous (and current) experience handling rabbits. I stalked her Facebook profile a bit before making my decision and took note of her track record via the Timeline feature: It says here that she rescued a hog in January.. awww, that’s nice. And here’s a picture of her daughter feeding a hamster – apparently on the living room couch – in late September; THAT means she’s cool with having pets in the house; you know, during in-climate weather. Good to know. And here she is, brushing a horse outside last month. (Smiling). Yep. She’s the one. 

 

So we made arrangements. I rode out to Tuscaloosa late yesterday morning with my best friend, Charlie. He drove the car so that I could sit in the passenger’s seat with the rabbits (it would have honestly been less painful to just situate them in the back, but I didn’t want to regret not spending those last few minutes with them). They were nestled comfortably inside of their carrier, and I was holding the carrier on my lap; I stuck my fingers through the metal rods at the carrier’s entrance, and Hiro laid down right there at the front, rubbing his nose and chin against my thumb and index finger. I could feel a damp wetness on his nose; the barely noticeable heat of his breathing. I cried.

 

Then I stopped crying: “Look — they’re going to a BETTER PLACE!” I consoled myself. “LITERALLY! Better! This is what’s BEST for them, Jace. You’ve got to remember that.”

 

So I peeked in on Panda, who was lying happily near the back of the carrier, and started crying again. I composed myself by rolling the window down; I let the cold winter air chill my face and focused my eyes onto the blurry procession of trees rolling along beside me. Breathe in; now hold it. Okay. Now breathe out, and quit feeling anxious. It’s stupid.. pointless. Relax into this, Jace. Accept that it is happening. Separate emotions from actions, if need be, so that you can get through the ordeal, and then process the whole thing later. 

Okay; that sounds good.

 

We arrived at the farm. I shook the woman’s hand in an awkward greeting. She smelled homey, and pleasant… like mother earth; a three-way combo of dry dirt, freshly cut grass, and.. rice. We removed the rabbits from the car first, and then their train of accessories (the “double” playpen, an over-sized bag of hay, two storage boxes full of aspen wood chips, and a re-purposed, plastic Publix bag that carried pellets, sesame stick treats and corn husks). We lingered on the farm, by the horse stalls, for about 15 minutes, commenting on the stately handsomeness of the big brown horse named Stetson, the adorable stoutness of the miniature white horse named Whistlepig (a miniature horse with, purportedly, “no personality”, but a real knack for screeching and screaming in the night), and the black and white Holland Lop rabbit cuddling in the woman’s arms: Fiona. Our farmer friend related that Fiona had just given birth to three premature rabbits the night before; the woman had a friend who was standing a few feet away, and she had the three baby rabbits tucked underneath her sweatshirt, holding them against her chest. She was keeping them warm. She was trying to keep them alive. They were hoping for the best.

There was a little more conversation (which centered around rain, hutches, and the donkey on the farm being a total ass), and then there was silence. “Well, we’ve got a long drive back,” I mentioned casually, shuffling my feet, and starting to feel anxious again, “so I think we’re going to head on out. But truly –” I extended my hand again and thanked her, again, for taking the rabbits in; for promising to give them a loving home and a happy life. She smiled warmly. I trusted her. I began walking away. As I did, I passed the little brown carrier. I knelt down and slipped my finger in through the front gate; Panda was there this time. She tilted her head back and sniffed my finger. Hiro was in the back; he gazed at me from a dark corner and then looked away. It’s like he knew.
“I love you guys,” I whispered in a raspy voice, fighting back a flood of tears.

 

We got in the car and drove home.

I cleaned out their area of the garage last night.. tossing soiled wood chips, gnawed corn husks, and a few overlooked toys into the trash. I swept, and then I mopped the floor with a bleach solution that Charlie had concocted, running, every few minutes, from their area (where I was cleaning) to the driveway for fresh air.

 

I woke up this morning and did a load of laundry (start to finish). I put a few dishes away. I took a shower and prepared to leave the house for the afternoon, grabbing a Kombucha (tea beverage) from the fridge, my laptop from underneath my bed, and my skateboard and related gear from off of the wooden chair in the hallway.  I felt my back left jean pocket to confirm that my wallet was there and then stuck my phone charger into my backpack.

Almost ready to go, I fed Bruster, topped off his water, re-opened the fridge to pull out a handful of “yum yum” (cilantro, parsley, or something equally as fresh and delicious) for the rabbits and —– wait.

 

I walked out into the garage, knelt down on the concrete floor, and cried like a baby, staring at where they had been yesterday morning. Where they would be today if I had made the selfish decision of keeping them forever.

 

If you love something, set it free.. and if you truly love it, you will.

 

 

 

Aun Aqui