I cling to strange signs.
There is a white rabbit that hangs out about a block from my house. The first few times I saw it I did a double-take: wild bunnies, dumb though Ed Abbey proved they are, never sit so stoically, and I’ve never seen a white wild rabbit. I finally encountered the owner and learned that the white rabbit is a pet, it lives outside, and has survived a year in this neighborhood filled with feral cats and half-trained pit bulls. I came to expect to see the white rabbit on my way home from work every day, hanging out under the same parked car around dusk. Jokingly, I referred to the white rabbit as an allegory for my own survival, connecting its unfathomable daily presence to my own continued existence.
I tempt my own fate.
Around the beginning of the month, I noticed that the car the white rabbit usually hid under, and indeed the white rabbit itself, were not there. Hadn’t been there since then. I looked around the yard to see if it were elsewhere, and under other parked cars, but there were no signs. The food and water bowl that were normally left out on the steps were also gone.
About a week after the disappearance of the white rabbit, and before I’d really processed its absence, my partner ended our relationship. I may have seen it coming had I been looking farther forward or back, but since my brother’s death I have only been looking at each day, so I was blindsided. It was not, he says, related to my temper or sadness, but rather to long-term and undefined incompatibilities. I don’t wish to press the point or blame him; I’ve ended relationships on those grounds or excuses before. But this action did toss me back out to sea with no anchor. I thought I was beginning to own my own life again, and now I find myself homeless, in a strange city where I have no community, nothing but a job and a cat to cling to, nowhere for solace but the mountains. Even the mountains failed me yesterday, and I found myself flinging myself onto a snowbank and crying out that I was in pain to perfect strangers. For days the heavy sodden woolen blanket of depression has been draped over me, shutting out light and human warmth, occasionally getting a corner stuck down my throat and choking me. I finally went to see a therapist, who assured me that I’m doing everything correctly; my worst fear, that this is normal and there is nothing I can do to take away the pain.
I am continuing to plod through the steps, although there are more now that I am homeless and without a partner to confide my grief in or help me with my daily tasks. I look forward to dark every day so I can sleep and be done with being conscious, and in the morning I lay in bed awake long before I need to be and wait for the light and more often my bladder to finally pull me out of my restlessness. I have given in to self-pity, which is worse even than the pity of others, and let myself feel totally abandoned by everyone.
I pulled it together enough at work to do a great job, and then as I was leaving the office at the end of a long and horrid but productive work week I said goodbye to my brother’s picture and completely broke down again. No matter how hard I work, no matter what I produce, no matter how amused Alex would be by it, I can’t bring him back.
A few days ago I saw the owner of the white rabbit again. I had been staying with acquaintances around town but was coming back to my old house to stay with my cat while my ex was out of town, and happened to be biking past while the man was out for a smoke. What happened to the white rabbit? I asked him, terrified of the answer. The confusion and lack of recognition on his face quickly gave way to the unworried answer: the rabbit’s fine, he assured me. He’d built a hutch for it in his cousin’s yard across the street, to keep it safe from the dogs. He’d also bought two more rabbits as companions for the white rabbit.
I swear when I get out of this hole I am climbing mountains and not looking down again.