I’m looking for houses again. I have no money and I’m so Grey Gardens tied to my own Big Edie that really, I’m not going anywhere, but I’m looking. The URLs of the good realtor sites for Duchess County, Hudson Valley, Sullivan County and Ulster are imprinted in my brainpan. House hunting is my last drug.
I gave up booze almost nineteen years ago & baby, oh baby, that’s a long, long time between drinks. At the same time I also gave up a myriad of “dry goods”. No one told the squirrels, no one asked them if it was okay to go cold turkey, to go through life with no cushion between them and the cold hard world. I put down the cocktail and was left with a head full of cold, hard noise. I gave up Valium, Elavil, Sinequan,
Halcyon, buspirone , desipramine, dalmane, cocaine & heroin — which by the way is the closest thing to being in the womb I can imagine — and rebirthed a slew of ADHD, coffee-swilling, crack-smoking squirrels desperate to get out of the wire cage in my head. They’d've happily had me swallow a shotgun to create an escape hatch. I’ve been playing Wack-A-Mole for almost nineteen years trying to find the “thing” that can replace the booze buzz and keep the squirrels at bay.
I AmEx’d $3000 worth of teak inlay tile for the floors of my LES rent stabilized tenement, but with no cash to pay a contractor they just sat in a corner. Six months, one revoked AmEx card & a collection agency later I returned the tiles for a 70% refund. It cost $900 to have a dozen boxes of tile keep me company for six months. Wack the Shopping Mole.
There were months of 4 hours a day/4 days a week at the city gym. I’d bulked up, torn a bursar sack and when I wasn’t feeling the burn, the squirrels were still screaming. Wack the Workout Mole.
I’ve eaten. I’ve fasted. I got fat banging my head on the ground. I got skinny banging my head against the wall. That’s it. Wack.
Food. Money. Exercise. Obsessive Cleaning. Rampant Promiscuity. Wack. Wack. Wack. Wack. Wack.
The squirrels, they love a really fast ride & will shut up, hang thier furry faces out the window, squirrel tongues whipping in the wind if I go fast enough & the music is loud enough. They just love that. I crashed the Honda into the back of a van, the Jeep first into the Manhattan Bridge and then into another car. The Volvo had a steel frame & let things hit me. Wack. Wack. Wack.
The truth is my squirrels just want me to listen to them, which is easier said than done with everyone chattering at once. Instead of shutting them up, if I can listen to one voice at a time, the way I do when I’m in a crowded restauarant & everyone
is talking but I’m only listening to you, then I can manage this.
This is spiritual work. This is The Show. It’s visits to Pentecostal Church services &
a Lakota sweat lodge. It’s the Zen Monastery outside of Woodstock. It’s Yoga & Silence. It’s Therapy & Meditation. It is the Work & the Journey. And in the silence I learn to hear each squirrel individually, to really hear & then move on.
For days, months, and years they’re quiet & my heart is safe enough to open a little bit; a little bit more; a little bit less.
Every once in a while they come back to visit & I forget it all & look for a way out. I’m obsessed with Out; with train tracks because they’re a way out; with shaving my head & moving to Italy because I think I need a fresh start. I think buying a cozy house will solve all my problems. I think there are no squirrels in Mayberry RFD.
This is all that’s left, my last new drug. The Zen of House Hunting. I know it’s not the answer, that the squirrels will secret themselves away in a corner of the moving van and be there before I finish unpacking. They’ll rearrange the furniture to thier liking. But if I find a house big enough, there just might be room for all of us to be comfortable. Me, two cats & seventeen screaming squirrels.