Embracing my inner Pippi Longstocking

My big treat two or three times a week is slinking into Farmer and the Cook and filling my African grass basket with avocados, oranges, bananas, soy creamer, cucumbers, hummus, soup (if it’s ready), chocolate chip muffins (I’m eating one right now), and whatever other goodies from their bakery case that I have cash for.

As I stood filling up a cup of coffee, I noticed an exceptionally slim, beautiful young woman talking to an older woman friend. The writer in me caught parts of their conversation: “Be sure to smudge the house with sage . . .” I had the impression the older woman was advising and consoling the younger one on matters of the heart, and I was close enough so that when I reached for the soy creamer and looked up I saw tears flowing down the younger woman’s flawless face.

I wish it were as easy as lighting candles and smudging the house with sage. Seeing the two of them talking and then hugging, I remembered how, for years and years, back when I was young and skinny, I’d pour my heart out to my older women friends. They were so patient with me, even as they rolled their eyes and tried to talk sense into me. But I had to learn the hard way–through experience.

Seeing this woman’s tears reminded me of the worst-ever breakup, with a sweet man I was hopelessly addicted to. I should have figured it out on our first date when he snorted “nose candy,” and those times when he snuck Ecstasy (still legal back then) into my orange juice, but it took a good long decade before I emerged from that river of denial. When he finally left, I didn’t think to smudge our house with sage. But, after sobbing for three days, comforted by my black potbellied pig, Rosie (who slept beside me on a blanket), and my dear white miniature poodle, Muffy, I had the sense to open all the doors and windows and let the fresh air and sunlight in.

To help me recover from the shock and disappointment of the breakup, my pre-teen daughter surprised me with a gift of two tame rabbits. They made me laugh through my tears. After playing with them outside on the grass, and not wanting to confine them to a cage, I had the brilliant idea to convert my bedroom into a rabbit room. This was something I could probably never have done if I still had a husband!

So I got rid of his dresser, our giant marital bed, the romantic lights, the decorations from India–all the stuff we had bought together through the years–and schlepped a bale of sweet smelling alfalfa hay into the house, a few sections at a time, until the entire hardwood floor looked like barn flooring, covered in hay. The energy of maleness, sex, and painful breakups flew out the window, and was replaced by two same-sex rabbits cavorting innocently about.

My daughter, her friends, and the kids next door quickly discovered that rabbits, like kittens, love to run through tunnels, play hide-and-seek, and hop over boxes and other obstacles. Soon the bedroom became a bona fide rabbit playground. With no man in the house to manage me, I embraced my inner Pippy Longstocking–my favorite childhood heroine who lived carefree, independent with no parents and kept her horse, monkey, and other animals in the house. In the weeks after that painful breakup, I no longer cared what the house looked like. Hay spilled from the bedroom into the hallway, and the rabbits nibbled at my toes . . .

suz10

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