Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Two things (maybe more)

Maharishi sits on the side of the bed and smiles at me beatifically as I wake up. (This is my favorite moment of the whole day.)

"I brought you tea," he says, "and I let you sleep in. Were you up in the night again?"
I sit up so fast that I almost bang my head against the wall.
"Is Minky up?"
"Yes," he says, "she's up."
"What time is it?" I squint at the alarm clock on his side of the bed. But my contacts are safely housed in the bathroom sink. It's grey outside.
"Shit, we've missed the school bus" I say.
"She has school today?" he asks. I love this. He has not a clue.
"It's her last day" I say in my out-of-it-but-pissed-off-anyway voice.
Girl child walks in on cue. Curly golden locks flowing over her shoulders. A half smile on her face. Pink tassled scarf draped strategically around her little neck.
"Wassup dog?" she says, clearly feeling better.

We drive to school in virtual silence. It's the last day of school. I'm determined not to get out of the car as I'm wearing JCrew ankle length pants in a hideous shade of green, that I usually garden in, my thick brown spectacles (Digglers) that look like the ones my father used to wear and a large burgundy t-shirt which has B A R D displayed across the front in large white letters. I am terrible at "landmark moments" and I don't want to have to get out of the car and say goodbye. In this particular get-up, I don't think I shall be tempted. Minks is staring out of the window. I forget to swear at inept drivers. KPCC is strangely muted.

"I'm a bit sad mamma" she says.
"I know" I say as we drive up the jacaranda-laden street, awash in purple blossoms, to the school.

Once child is dropped I venture up the hill in the fog. It's such an English day. Grey, foggy, slightly damp. I park on Mulholland, let the dogs out of the car, and walk into the secret park, through the hole in the fence, which feels as if one is stepping into Narnia. You actually have to duck down and push the branches, which have been strategically placed there by concerned walkers, out of the way to climb through.

On the other side, there is a series of green fields, studded with oak trees, linked by gravelly pathways. There is no-one here. The dogs are overjoyed. They leap and dart and sniff and run and pee and wag their tales jubilantly. Still achey, I amble. This area is beautiful. Through the mist, between the sagebrush-covered hills (no, it's not a chorus of 'Landslide') you can almost see the airport and the ocean to the right of it. The wide, stony fire road is flanked by tiny yellow mustard mustard flowers, wild oat grass, wild anise, and those prehistoric-looking plants with the spiky ball fruits. It's very scrubby, very starched front pioneering stock, very wild. I fiddle about with the damn iPhone (such is my addiction that I cannot even walk without it, for fear of missing a Kodak Moment).

Dotsie, the older (and broader) of the two dogs shoots off towards a very wiley Mr Coyote who is hovering on a ridge by a large aluminium water pipe. Beans immediately follows suit and I see both of them dashing at supersonic speeds over the chaparral. My panic is in my throat, my hands, my heart, my knees. We have lost one dog to a coyote and I don't want it to happen again. Coyotes send out a scout to attract single dogs and they draw them back, up into the hills, where the pack can attack them. This happens most nights in the canyon with hapless dogs and cats. We hear the sounds and try to go back to sleep.

Before I can say "A dingo got my baby" I find myself letting out a belly roar, a primal scream, a Lady Macbeth-like "Nooooooooooooooo!" as if I were Sigourney Weaver in Aliens. The sound eminating from my mouth is so loud that I can hear it reverberating against the metal pipe and echoing around the canyon. Both dogs stop dead in their tracks. I could be mistaken, but the little one might even have whimpered. The puppy comes bounding back and in a first for mankind, runs straight up to me and lets me put her lead on. Dotsie looks at me, then looks at the coyote, who at this point has stopped and is winking at her with the "C'mon love" bedroom eyes, and then looks back at me. I call her name in my now-hoarse voice. She pretends not to hear and glances back at the coyote. "Dotsie" I yell. "Bad." Yeah, I know, not what you're supposed to say. She walks back to me slowly, glancing every now and then over her shoulder to the coyote. I grab her by the scruff and lock the lead onto her collar. "Bad dog" I say again, "Bad, bad girl." I love this dog so much.

Afraid that the whole of Los Angeles has heard my sonic boom of a yell, I walk quickly down the hill with both girls, shame-faced in tow. But no-one else is there. It's just us, a very large and beautiful red-tailed hawk, and further down the trail, a covey of quail. This is not strange in wilderness land, but to think that we live in the middle of one of the largest cities in the world, and yet there is this land for us to play in, without another person for miles, is rather spoiling, no?

At lunchtime, I resume parental duties and pick up the child, age 14 from school. It's her very last there, at a school where she has been very happy. As I wait in line, under the jacarandas, I text her, somewhat surreally:
- I am here, Are you there?
- Ya we just got out.
- Ok. Cool. You ok?
- Ya just sad

She finds me in line, comes stumbling towards me with her book bag and her pink scarf and her hair all over the place. She plonks herself down in the front seat, stares straight ahead and then shows me her yearbook. It's black and white on the outside, like a composition book. Inside, things are scribbled in red and green and silver and black pen. They say things like "I will miss you so much" and "I love you" and "you made smile so much even if I didn't show it." She starts reading them to me. And then stops. She can't do it. We drive home in silence holding each other's hand.