Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Independence Day is when we celebrate our independence from our colonial past. Or as Ellen DeGeneres recently tweeted, when we celebrate Will Smith saving our planet from aliens. Either way we look at it, it is different for me now.
Three different friends asked me today if I was going to watch any fireworks. And I said, "No. I have to stay home and calm down the dogs." I lied. Well, I didn't truly lie; Mufasa, my youngest, is prone to colitis when stressed. When I clean the house for company, he sometimes gets colitis, an inflammation of the colon leading to diarrhea. When new company comes over, he sometimes has issues. We once had an $800.00 emergency vet bill because three normal, very active children, ages 5, 2, and 8 months came over and he had his worst case ever. He ended up hospitalized overnight hooked up to IVs. And now, he's lying comfortably at my feet, barking occasionally, as fireworks and firecrackers are popping and whistling in the night air. Now that doesn't mean colitis won't show up, it usually takes 2-3 days for the evidence to present itself. Simba can also get colitis, but is not as prone to it as Mufasa. But this is not about their emotional issues. This is about mine.
I realized I have been using my dogs as an excuse. And more than just for tonight. Yes, they might get stressed out because of the fireworks, but they will also survive. I've become a pro at reading their signs. And I get proactive, I keep Pepcid on hand and slip them a little something when I suspect they are stressed. I also told my friends I didn't know where any displays were. I tried looking for them, but I couldn't find any on the interactive internet map. The truth is I just could have driven a small distance to a hill, parked and looked out over the Valley and seen many displays at once. I just didn't want to drive to spend the money on gas. While my budget is very tight right now, I must not use it as an excuse. However, I must be realistic, which is different. There are steps I can take to get some relief and I have a summer to work on it.
I have also used them as an excuse around Halloween. Somewhere it is written all gays must descend on West Hollywood for the Halloween Carnival and many of my straight friends go and always ask me if I am. No, I needed to be home to hand out candy, and to calm the boys down because of all the visitors. Protective barking is normal for dogs as they are alerting the pack to possible intruders. I don't get many visitors during the rest of the year, so Halloween night really sets them off. Mufasa has never had an episode of colitis after Halloween that I can recall. The truth is I hate going into WeHo as there is never any parking. Streets are permit only, the parking lots are difficult to get into and then you pay for parking. And getting there from my house isn't terribly convenient. The ex lives there and as we share custody of the boys, I must pick them up when he has them, so I am getting better at reading the traffic. But, still it's not my favorite place to go. But, I need to get over myself, as I need to get back into the community. (Possible blog on that later.) And the street closures, only add to the confusion and difficulty.
Another reason I have used in the past is once you've seen one display, you've seen them all. My first partner and I would go to Disneyland almost every week during the summer (we were passholders back then) and stay through to see the fireworks display. And no one does fireworks like Disney. So, anything else is a step down. And when you've seen that many displays, plus the ones at baseball games for homeruns, and driving through the Cahuenga Pass by Universal Studios, they lose their magic. Fireworks are fireworks, Independence Day or not.
I was sitting on the floor playing with them both, distracting them from the pops, whistles and bangs, when I realized everything I'd written above. So, I got up and walked out the door and out the gate to the street outside my community. There is an elementary school across from my community and I could make out some of the displays that went above the treeline behind the school. And, people down the street were setting some off as well. I stood there watching these displays, celebrating our Independence when it occurred to me, it was my Independence as well. With the growth I have experienced, it was Independence from my past, Independence from the hurt and anger from my divorce and other past events. While the US can never ignore our history with Great Britain, both positive and negative, so much of our present is a result of our past. For example, many linguists describe us as two countries separated by a common language. And while I cannot ignore the events of my past, both recent and distant, they have also shaped me into who I am today.
I did actually enjoy the fireworks I could see, I just wish the school had turned out their yard lights.
I caught Mufasa, foreground, at the beginning of a sneeze. He doesn't like having his picture taken, so after this he refused to cooperate any further. He is a Pomeranian, after all.