LIFE SURFING WITH MAX

Today, my front door is covered in plastic because Geranamo is painting the outside front of the house. My exterior house colors are from the 1950’s; a rich harvest gold with blue trim.

Because of the plastic wrapped door, the fellow who has brought the loan papers for me to sign has a bit of trouble finding a way into my newly renovated home. I run out and get him and lead him to the back of my house and into my new patio with the 6 foot high, stucco, harvest gold wall.

I have had a large outdoor round New Mexican style gas fireplace built into the wall, and a blue seated area in front of it. The patio floor is a reddish copper stamped concrete.

For extra class I have installed my 15 year old, tattered, used-to- be-green, battered outdoor metal table and chair set. The cushions hang in threads. I don’t know what happened to the umbrella.

Mike is thirty, dark haired, quite tall and as I find, he loves cats. When we get inside the house and I’ve pushed the cat hair encrusted table cloth off to the side of the table, he slaps down a huge stack of paper work on it. Then, he whips out his cell phone and shows me his cat’s photo.

He loves his gray, smiling cat.
“My ex girlfriend gave him to me and when we split up, you know how it is, I wanted to toss out all the things we had had together. But, I couldn’t, you know, toss Max. I couldn’t let go of him.”

My little red dog Bob, who is part small pug and part long haired doxie, has my gray haired cat, Sparkle down on the floor in a patch of sun. He is giving the cat a bath. Mike’s eyebrows lurch into his hairline.

“Oh my gosh!” he yells. “I have never seen a dog do that!”

“Oh,” I say, “Bob loves cats. He always bathes Sparkle.”

Suddenly, Sparkle grabs Bob’s head with her paws, holds it down on the floor and starts giving him a face bath.

Mike freaks, “Oh my god!! This should be on My Space. Oh my god, I have never seen this kind of thing. I’ve got to take a picture!”

Once again, his cell phone is out and he points it at The Couple. Bob lifts his head off the floor and looks at Mike.

“No, no, do it some more,” Mike is begging.

“Oh, this is nothing,” I say. “They give each other baths all the time and then they have big wrestling matches. Sparkle throws Bob on the floor and sits on him. I could probably get them on the TV show, Home Videos, and make some money.”

“Oh, you have to, you have to!” Mike is shouting. He is quite an enthusiastic person.

He finally manages to turn away from Bob and Sparkle and begins sliding papers at me to sign. There is a huge stack of them! I sign and sign and sign. It becomes mindless.

I am getting my first house remodel loan refinanced and feel darn fortunate that I have been able to do it. As the guy said who got the loan put together for me, “You are really, really lucky. The banks are losing billions and even people like you with great credit are getting turned down.”

He tells me today, on the phone, “I’m in the business and the banks are even working me over! They charged me $20,000 for something, sent me a letter about it and the next day they took it out of my account! There’s no way their letter could have even reached me that soon, so now all my other checks are bouncing and I’m in the business!

I look at Mike as he is sliding more papers toward me, and I say, “Considering the work you do, I’m surprised you even have a job.”

Mike says, “Me too. But, I am losing my home to foreclosure. And, I’m in the business!”

My house remodel is winding down. My contractor Chuckie will be here a few more days, then he goes back to L.A. for a three week job. Geranamo, his sidekick, will stay here and paint the house and dig holes for me in the field and whatever else I can dream up for him to do to keep him busy until Chuckie returns to finish up the small stuff.

For a year now, I have enjoyed hearing Chuckie shout, all day long, when he needs him, “Geranamo! Geranamo!”

I am reminded of the Indian named Geranamo who led some big war against the whites and forever after people in the U.S. now shout, “Geranamo!” when leading some kind of attack.

(Well, if you don’t get it, it’s a cultural thing but it is fun and I will miss hearing Chuckie shout the charge, ‘Geranamo!’)

Tomorrow the men will finally be here to lay the scarlet linoleum in the bathrooms.

I’m thinking about all this as I am signing papers and looking around my house.

Mike and I are in the ‘Great Room’ which holds the shiny apple-red kitchen cabinets and the inlaid black appliances, dark blue-black counters and gold-swirled wall paper.

The sitting area where Bob and Sparkle are lounging has the same gold swirled paper and a shocking blue couch with several unusual chairs to the side of it. My favorite chair is patterned in a whimsical, cloth design. I have to be careful not to put it too close to the built in apple candy red desk where I feed the cat. If the chair gets too close, Bob hops up onto the back of the it and leaps into the cat dish to feed. He is very smart and able.

Mike and I are sitting at the big table in the ‘eating area’ looking directly at the vivid and wildly colored bird wall paper.

I’m thinking about my shocking pink art room with the yellow trim and my yellow-gold bedroom with the aqua sitting room.

When people come into my home and see it for the first time, unprepared, they actually often stagger at the sight. I thought Summer’s eighty year old mother in law might collapse the other day when she came into view the place. She lurched backward with her hand to her heart and whispered, “…woooow…..wow…oh, wow.”

I am thinking how talented and clever I have been with my house. How charmingly outrageous, when Mike looks at my living-room walls and says, “I like your blue walls.”

Gads. With it’s dusky light purplish-blue walls it’s the tamest room in the house! All my artistic work for naught? I’m shaken. But, then, men always like blue.

The papers are signed now and I have rolled my thumb in blue ink and stabbed it on a page with a row of 10 of my signatures.

Mike gets up to leave.

I tell him how sorry I am that he is losing his house. He says that he is kind of relieved. That the worry has just been too much for him.

I say, “You’re young. You’ll be fine. You will get this behind you.”

He’s shocked. “I’m 30! That’s old! This is terrible. I shouldn’t be at this point at thirty!”

Poor guy. If he thinks he has been finished off and labeled a failure at thirty, how might he feel at sixty after life has shaken him in it’s bottle and dumped him on a gritty table?

I tell him, “I’ve been knocked down hard, quite a number of times. I’ve lost everything more then several times but I always work to come back higher and better then ever. You will too. Life is just cycles. You ride the waves. You eventually learn to ride them with a certain amount of grace and courage.”

I don’t think he hears me, but, at thirty I couldn’t see the waves, either. I couldn’t see anything but my pain and my ‘massive failures’.

Age has some great benefits if you just let go and let it come, while doing the very best you can, always.
But, certainly I had to live my life my way and soak in it’s brine for quite awhile before I was able see that.

I wave good bye to Mike and wonder what will happen next in his life. I’m glad his ex-girlfriend gave him his smiling cat friend and dear companion, Max.

Life is a bit easier, and the waves seem more gentle, with a good friend.


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