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It's Nelly's World

Free and Not So Easy

alec vanderboom

Nelly is finding places to be at home in her new home: yesterday afternoon, she hopped into the laundry
basket, and curled up on the dirty clothes. See, dogs are not like you and me. Trust me, there was some really ripe stuff in there. She looked so peaceful and happy. I suspect that will be where this evening will find her, when we all celebrate some vague memory of something that none of us truly appreciate or understand anymore. I am not talking flag decal on the pickup here. I am talking slog to the ends of the earth, to the ends of tolerance, to the ends of what a human being can withstand.

We hear what we want to. Talking politics with someone you care for but do not yet know is a frightening business, maybe more so than delving into personal past history. Which, when you come to a certain point in life, can be more potent than anything that could come in the future. And that is frightening too. Because what occurred in the past occurred in an ethos of endless hopefulness and unseeable boundaries. That is why, I guess, I kept carting around this vast tonnage of stuff--some of it was going to be useful in one of my infinitely numbered future lives: dishware to serve the crown prince; enough pictures to line the great hall of a Tudor mansion; evening wear for whatever gala or prize bestowal might pop up in years to come. But now I finally know I won't have twelve more lives of differing intensity; I might just get to live this one out in some modicum of happiness, occasional pleasure, and decent output of work. Enough for me.

I am still not certain what to do with my wedding shoes, however. I look at them, metallic leather winking at me from inside their tissue paper nest, and try to imagine throwing a box containing shoes that cost many days' wages, that were meant to make me feel like a princess and did, into what feels suspiciously like a dumpster at the Salvation Army. Uh-uh. I can't. But neither could I imagine wearing them at another such ceremony, even in the unlikely event of a water landing. I put the box away again. Perhaps something new will yet occur, for which beautiful bronze pumps will be just the right thing.

Offloading the detritus of the past--after carefully turning it in your hands, marveling that you have such chances, such moments, and so very, very many of them--is a kind of freedom. Not so hard-fought as the one we eat popsicles and watermelon in honor of today. But one that is just a little difficult, because it requires letting go. Once the ballast is gone, though, see how high you can fly!