He was with me since my first day, the first hour even, of my life in New York City. I arrived with my parents in their car, and my then-roommates immediately brought him down to the street to greet me. He clawed his way up my sweater — he was only 10 weeks old at the time.
Today he was 16 years old. He’d become totally connected to me over the years, and in the last six months of his slow but steady decline it was impossible for him to be in the same room with me and not be in constant physical contact. Yesterday as I showered, he flopped himself into the water because he could not bear to be as far away as just outside the glass.
He was a loving, adoring, terribly impossibly wonderful perfect little creature that I will never ever get over losing. He gave me more happiness than any one person deserves to feel and now I do not know who I am without him.
People often ask me “Could you recommend a good book?” This is a difficult question to answer, in a way, because there are thousands of good books and whether or not you find a book “good” really depends on what’s happening in your life at the moment the book finds you. I say it that way on purpose. The best books are the ones that choose you. So, I’ve made some reading lists based on various themes. Say you like books about “Spirit Animals” or maybe you like “Bleak Arid Centers” or “New York Shitty.” Find a theme that interests you, trot off to your favorite independent bookstore, snatch up all the books, make a pot of tea, and settle in.
- Love Invents Us, by Amy Bloom
- Look at Me, by Jennifer Egan
- Exposure, by Kathryn Harrison
- Orpheus Lost, by Janette Turner Hospital
- Why Did I Ever, by Mary Robison
- Empathy, by Sarah Schulman
- No Lease on Life, by Lynne Tillman
I’ve written a short essay about my love of cocktails over at Bit By a Fox.
In July I went to Fire Island for a few days to stay with friends who had rented an entire house for an entire month. There were 43 people on the spreadsheet that accompanied the emails about who was sleeping in which bed which nights. During the days there were long trips to the beach, communal meals, and group activities–one of which was a writing assignment. We were asked to think about our morning and write about what happened. Simple as that. This is what came out.
I woke up and the house was quiet. I wasn’t sure if anyone was up, or if everyone was gone. I looked on the porch to see everyone sleeping, seeing how they had arranged themselves after I had gone to bed. Kelly was on the opposite side of the porch that I had presumed, and that was a surprise. I like to know that people are taken care of. It was foggy; you could not see the short of Long Island from the deck, so I sat there for a minute, looking out at the space, thinking about the time when early mankind would look out at expanses of sea and wonder what was possibly on the other side, as if they questioned how they would get there. It’s not a profound thought, really. I think of this moment often. I’m attracted to that moment of leaving the shore for the first time. Was it an act of faith or desperation? Were the people persecuted in some way? The pugs downstairs were sitting on the couch by the window as I walked around the house–and I wondered if the boys had come home yet–were they still out at wherever that amazing light had come from. I circled by the outdoor shower and along the path near the new ivy. The stairs were wet–I wondered if it had rained, or if this is what happens when you go to the beach–surfaces collecting the ocean overnight. We talk about the sea like it’s one thing. But it is different depending on where you are–brown, shaggy, clear, sometimes warm like a bath. I find it hard to think about all of its millions of variations throughout the globe. The sea does this to us, I think. We cannot imagine something so huge and varying. We assign a mind and feelings to it. We need it to respond to us the way we respond to it.