In New York we had achieved a new state of being, what they call “the faster pace,” but that phrase doesn’t quite hit it; it’s more than taking brisk steps on the sidewalk or whatever. It’s more than the ability to go out at 3am for a bagel. You have to pay attention, in New York. You have to be aware. You have to give specific consideration to everything, to look at all the options available to you. You have choose wisely how to spend the limited time you have to do the unlimited number of things that must be done. One missed opportunity — and by “opportunity” I mean something much more mundane than, you know, an actual opportunity; I mean something like “five minutes that become available unexpectedly, so why don’t I clean out the catbox” — one missed opportunity, is what I’m saying, and your whole week, your whole month, your whole world, can come crashing down. Catbox uncleaned becomes bathroom filthy becomes sewage smell in the hallway outside your apartment becomes neighbors complaining becomes eviction notice. Just like that. In, like, hours. Not that we ever let the ball drop that way, not that that’s why we left the city, but I’ve seen it happen, is what I’m saying.
This is our house, and these are our friends helping us move into it.
We were determined, in Louisville, to keep the pace up somehow. “The first week,” I told my boyfriend Joe, “the first week is the key. We gotta get all our shit unpacked, join the gym, get you a job, cook every meal at home, hup two three, or we’re doomed to living the way we used to, ineffective slackers in a sad little backwater. We’ll go back to Louisville, but we’ll never go back to that.”
So yeah. We got here. We unpacked a lot of the boxes, but not all of them (our tenant, by the way, hasn’t really got all his stuff out of our house, since he never foreswore the Louisville slacker lifestyle; as we unpack and place our own stuff around the house, we also have to remove his, to the front room, where we’re just piling it all up for him to take away someday, yeah, right). We joined the gym. We cooked every meal at home — for, like, one day, day and a half, something like that. We were good. We had it covered. Yeah. We had it all under control. You see where this is going, right? Then it all went to hell.
The first thing that happened is that the dogs got fleas. Boogie, our Lab/Chow mix, in particular, has got very sensitive skin, so fleas are more than just an annoyance. The last time he got them, he almost died (fleas led to him chewing on his leg, which led to an infection, which led to a fever, etc. — being a dog with sensitive skin is almost as precarious a lifestyle as being a sloppy homosexual in an apartment in New York City, see first paragraph). So we took the dogs to the vet. Halfway through the vet’s visit, Joe had to go out to the car because he was feeling weird and overheated. I thought nothing of it. He’s a sweet boy, prone to delicate moments. But by the time we got home, he was moaning like a character out of a Victorian ghost story and sweating, pacing the house all bug-eyed, and complaining of a sore throat.. That night, while he was sleeping, and while I was trying to sleep, he whispered “No” after every breath. I am serious. I listened. I worried. I waited. “No.” And then again, “No.” When he woke in the morning, he had a temperature of 102.
I got my laptop and sat down at the kitchen table to try to get some work done. I wrote this, for example. Meanwhile the dogs continued to scratch themselves bloody in the hallway. And then Joe’s vomiting phase began.
We gave up. We slowed down and slacked out. We got lots of rest and drank plenty of fluids, etc. It’s been a couple of days now. Joe’s strep throat (that’s what it turned out to be) has faded. I managed not to catch it. The dogs are still scratching, but not nearly as much, and I think we avoided a skin infection this time. I’m only really just now getting primed for productive hours, though. I got a little bit of work done last week, but not nearly enough to justify my salary. But that’s not the worst of it. The faster pace? The one we picked up in New York, and were determined to carry through to our life here in Louisville? That one? Remember it? Yeah. The first week is the key, and all that? Completely gone by the wayside. Life in Louisville insists, on behalf of itself, and with punishing certitude, that it be lived more slowly. I guess that’s what we wanted in the first place; I guess that that’s why we moved back.
Still, it would have been nice to have kept up our New York City pace in Kentucky. We’d have been supermen. We’d have been Gods. We’d have been as annoying as every other failed New Yorker returning home, and we would have loved it.