Walking the Llama

One day when I was on the bus going to work, Theresa sat down next to me. I was pregnant with Seth and was probably doing pelvic floor exercises or was otherwise inwardly occupied, because I remember feeling irritated when she spoke to me. I didn’t know her name was Theresa yet; I didn’t know anything about her. Once I’d pulled my head out of my womb, however, I managed to engage with her politely. She was wondering if I’d chosen a name for the baby yet. As a matter of fact, I said (registering now that she was what a former generation might have referred to as “slow”), we had not come to an agreement yet. That was an understatement, as my then-partner and I had hugely differing ideas about good names – I countered her every Brianna and Kiera with Daisy and Jocelyn, and neither of us was budging. Luckily, we did manage to agree on a boy’s name, so were both hoping for a little fella.

“When I was born,” explained Theresa, “my mom hadn’t named me yet and it said on the birth certificate, ‘Baby Girl.’ That’s terrible!” I commiserated, not knowing exactly why it was so terrible. Maybe Theresa felt unwanted when she heard that story, but anyway, she was quite relieved when I told her that we at least had a boy’s name and were working hard on a girl’s. Before she got off, she told me something wonderful: once or twice a week, she had the job of going over to a local farm and walking the llama. I was so happy with this piece of information that I could barely contain myself. I tend to react strongly to this sort of thing, and she probably wondered what my problem was, but I pressed her to tell me all about it. I didn’t know llamas had to be walked, but apparently, this one liked to get out. After that, I saw her now and then – I think (but I could be making this up) that I even saw her after Seth was born and I was able to introduce the two of them.

Seth is 12 now, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere. He’s cultivating a potty mouth and, although I protest, I did the same at 10 and am hardly an angel when it comes to swears. He bullies his 9-year old brother, Owen, he pesters us about cell phones, he hates that we’re gay, and he is embarrassed and irked by everything about us. (I speak for myself and my Beau, but I’m quite sure it’s the same in my ex’s household.) I love him and Owen as fiercely and completely as a mama can.

Today I have been feeling so shredded by this divorce. It is such a kick in the ass that my ex and I separated over 5 years ago (after being estranged-yet-living-together for as many years), that we’ve been to therapy and mediation, endured countless unendurable meetings – for what? We still have no official documents of any kind concerning custody or any other divorce arrangements. The situation has become unbearable as we continued, year after year, to try and reinvent the wheel. Without going into too much detail, the whole thing sucks shit. We need something filed with the court, and that is why I finally hired a lawyer to help get the papers that will protect the boys. This has infuriated my ex and made her even harder to deal with than usual. It is putting a huge strain on me, my relationship with my Beau, and surely, although they don’t know exactly what’s going on as we’re keeping them well out of it, the boys. I have been on the brink of tears all day, and am here all alone, as my Beau has been out of town on work since Tuesday, and the boys are at my ex’s. Falling, falling, falling….

And then, driving to work this evening, I happened to glance to my left and saw a very strange backside. It was animal, large, brown and white – at first I thought it was a big dog. Oh, but then I saw more clearly, and it was the llama! THE llama! I saw it’s funny, grumpy-looking face (it was turned around, looking at traffic), and then I saw Theresa, both hands on the lead, stumping along, doing her job. That’s all it took — I burst into tears. Grateful tears, for the gift of seeing Theresa walking the llama after all these years, and tears of release, as I let go of some of my anger and sadness. God damn it, it’s time to stop moping ‘cause there are jobs to be done! The student I was driving towards needs to learn English, the papers granting safety and stability to my sons have to be filed, the llama has to be walked!

The phone rang just now and it was Seth, calling so I could go over his English test with him – apparently linking and action verbs are too much for my ex (they’re pert’ near too much for me, too, but I teach ESL, so have to pretend I know all about grammar). He didn’t swear, he thanked me kindly, and I hung up with a happy glow in my heart. Later tonight, I’m going next door to check in on the neighbor kids (10-year old twins and a 13-year old). I’ve known them since their birth – our two families are an enclave in an it-takes-a-village sort of a way – and they’re alone tonight while their folks have a special evening out. I’ll go over there and maybe read them a story or two, get a little kid lovin’ in to tide me over until I see mine again.

Then I’ll come home and keep on walking.

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Published in: on November 21, 2008 at 12:33 AM  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thank you for this wonderful, revealing post. I hope there are many more moments of unexpected wonder to keep you going as you deal with your divorce. You are accomplishing a great deal just by staying open to the world while you’re under so much pressure.

  2. Thank you, highfemme! I so appreciate the feedback, and am awfully glad you stopped by.


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