The End

Today I woke up wrapped in soft blankets with the Wyoming sun gently flitting through the sheer curtains at six am, but stayed in the plush king bed and fell back asleep while snuggling with a whippet named Piper. When I re-awoke at seven, I smiled at a text from Ira wishing me a good morning at 6:32 in what I suspect was supposed to be a Scottish accent. I put my glasses on and tiptoed downstairs with Piper dancing at my heels. I measured out some puppy food into a small bowl for Porter, a heeler/Catahoula mix, and placed it on the floor with two other bowls for Piper and a piebald dachshund called Oscar. After all of the kibble had disappeared into now-satisfied bellies, I put Piper and Oscar outside so I could focus on Porter. I had already washed his eye of the light green mucus that had crusted his right lids shut overnight; as long as I made sure he had a treat in his mouth, he was fairly patient with me rinsing his eye out and administering drops. Then I tried to give him one of his pills in peanut butter, but he spit it out, so I had to push it into his throat along with two others. He didn’t seem too aggravated and I rewarded him with a stick of chicken jerky, after which he went outside to play with the others.

I went back upstairs and continued my morning. Contacts in, teeth brushed, scalding hot shower taken, legs shaved, comfy clothes dug out and put on, hair brushed, lotion applied. Returning to the kitchen, I watched Porter try to get Oscar to play with him out of my peripheral as I spooned granola, coconut milk yogurt, and blueberries into a dish for breakfast. I refilled the water dish before stepping over the baby gate into the living room. I loaded The Royal Tenenbaums into my PS3 before sitting on the couch with Piper – wrapped in a down comforter, of course – and we started the movie. I paid attention to it in waves: my eyes on the screen while I was licking spoonfuls of yogurt, distracted by a round of crossword puzzles and word searches on my DS, then back to the screen as I started to get sleepy from too many words, and distracted again by work emails. Halfway through, I rose to check on the boys and make myself a cup of passion tea with candied ginger.

I found myself lost in a movie I had seen a myriad of times before, at many different points in my life, and I discovered new feelings welling up in me. My breath caught in my lungs and my eyes grew heavy with tears when Richie was preparing to kill himself. I hesitantly smiled and gripped the blanket when Richie and Margot finally admitted their love for each other. I was initially disappointed in Eli’s aversion to aid with his drug problem and his subsequent accident into the Tenenbaum household just before the wedding, but I sighed and beamed proudly at both his and Chas’s admittances that they needed help – though for very different things, still closely relatable. I laughed at the words etched into Royal’s headstone and marveled at Pagoda’s undying loyalty. I felt tears seeping under my eyelids at the close of the movie – one I have seen a myriad of times before, at many different points in my life – and after sitting here thinking about it for a few hours; after downloading Spotify and listening to a bunch of acoustic songs; after hugging a puppy and playing with all the dogs and starting laundry; after writing about my morning…I still don’t know why I reacted the way I did this time.

I finished my original five-week internship at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary at the end of March, after which I left Kanab for a week and visited friends in Phoenix. On my return, I was allowed two weeks to intern in areas I hadn’t been able to complete earlier due to my sprained ankle. In the second week of April through the middle of May, I was asked to participate as the first ever intern for a five-week dog-training specific internship. It was tough being the guinea pig, but I’m honored that I was given the opportunity to lead off such an awesome new program that I’m sure will benefit many more determined and dedicated people in years to come. No sooner had I completed that second internship, then I was scheduled for my two-week job evaluation in rabbits. Basically, the evaluation is a situation where both the employer and the potential employee have the chance to try out the open position to see if it’s going to work for all parties involved. This being what I had put up on a pedestal as the opportunity of a lifetime, I gave everything I had, asked every question that popped up, and absorbed as much information I could fit in my brain. All to no avail. I received a voicemail on the first day of June informing me that while I did a great job, I wasn’t the person they were looking for. So I packed a few bags and hit the road.

I left early in the morning on Wednesday, June 3rd and headed up to Salt Lake City. I stopped for a flight and a Cuban sandwich at Epic Brewing Company before visiting a post office to mail off my finalized divorce papers. Having never been to the state of Idaho before (and really only thinking of potatoes and the Oregon Trail when it came up previously), I made it to Idaho Falls and walked into the only brewery in town. A few samples in, a small family consisting of a mother, her mid-20-something son and his 21st-birthday-celebrating cousin sat down to face me at the corner of the bar. I finished off my samples while the guys pounded down a couple pints and the mother reminisced about being young again with the bartender, and when I stood to pull my wallet out of my back pocket, the older of the two men asked me if I was there alone. Normally, this is a question I lie about for obvious reasons thanks to the gender roles in today’s society, but I had just been told I wasn’t good enough for what I had thought was my dream job after 3 months of hard, unpaid work, I didn’t have a home and couldn’t afford to stay in Kanab to continue pursuing the work I’ve wanted to do since I was born, and I had sent in my divorce papers not 3 hours earlier. So I smiled and told the truth, wished the younger one a happy birthday, and walked out. Before I reached my car, the older guy called out to me. I stopped and turned around as he approached, telling me I was one of the most beautiful women he had seen around there and asking simultaneously if I had a boyfriend and if he could get my number. I laughed and said I was just passing through, that I didn’t have a boyfriend, and that he could have my name. I shook his hand and drove away.

stag party

Originally I had intended to stay in Idaho Falls, but decided I was making good time, so I continued towards Jackson, Wyoming. I booked a hotel in Teton Village and just before I reached Jackson, I passed a very busy little bar in the town of Victor, ID. I walked in as it started raining and found a spot at the very back corner of the bar, ordered a beer, and the band started playing. It was surreal being among so many lively people I didn’t know in a town I had never even heard of at a bar I just happened to notice when I glanced to that side of the road. None of this had existed before that moment, but it felt comfortable and familiar. I had three pints while the live music twanged through the muffled conversations. I watched parts of the hockey game that was on TV with strangers next to me, and I clapped with the people paying attention to the songs as they ended, and I paid my tab and slipped out as the rain stopped. I reached my hotel a short time later and started a bath in the elegantly modern tub. I soaked off some of the alcohol and all of the rest of the worries I was carrying with me that day before crawling into bed.

teton village

The birds chirping outside idyllically woke me up, and I opened my window to a soft light shining through pine trees onto mountains capped with snow. I felt refreshed. I showered and ordered room service for brunch in bed…because it was something I’ve always wanted to do. A handsome young man delivered my breakfast, and smiled as he was caught off guard by my answering the door in a loose robe. He returned a few minutes later with my orange juice, apologizing sheepishly for forgetting it the first time, and I heard him lingering a bit after I closed the door. I lounged in bed for another hour and then returned to the road, lighter than I had been when I started my journey.

teton park

tetons

I slowly wound my way through Grand Teton National Park with my windows down, soaking up the smooth warmth of the sun through the crisp mountain air. I felt my legs and shoulders burning from the rays streaming through my sunroof, but I just let it happen. I saw deer and birds and so many tall trees and bubbling streams; there was a blue heron that caught a large fish, and a moose ignoring a horde of tourists taking photos as it enjoyed lunch, and mountains looming behind every forested horizon. It was quiet and loud – a cacophony of sounds drifting along a whisper of wind. It was peaceful. I took deep breaths in and held everything inside for as long as I could, absorbing all of the particles, before I slowly pushed all of the air out of my lungs, ridding myself of the old and the negative that had collected…making room for the new and the hopeful. For the first time in a very long time, I was lost without feeling lost. I was finding myself.

To be continued…

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