The vet with eyes a bit out of proportion to the rest of her head, a cartoon owl who talks too fast at high tones, she takes us through what we missed this past winter when we were in the UK and the temperatures were so mild the hookworms are more aggressive now, which means we have to augment our monthly parasite medication with a liquid, banana-flavored treatment that’s given orally but doesn’t taste so bad her assistant says, she had it by accident treating a dog who just spit some right in her mouth and she swallowed it, tasted alright! The vet describes the symptoms of hookworm, not much worse than a skin irritation but it does have a serpentine quality, which reminds me of Harry Potter and the Dark Mark when Voldemort summons his followers, a tattoo along the wrist with a skull and a snake in its mouth: and it’s true what our German vet said about Ginger’s incontinence stemming from being spayed too young, her vulva didn’t come out right that first heat cycle (they leave them intact there longer, she says).
I finally got the nerve to open the Moleskins from Europe, the two I used to rewrite my memoir starting in Galway mid-December, that thins out once we return to Germany mid-March, and starts stream-of-consciousness with mind maps and not much white space; it takes me back to that apartment in Galway so sparse and fitting for our moods, how we were coming apart as a family and the weather was especially bad, the mid-point of 12 weeks on the road around the UK homeschooling, too much of each other and not enough routine — how I got lost on a short walk by our flat that first day, lost in the folds of Salthill outside Galway but too proud and stubborn to ask for help, I just kept going until I found a strip of retail that felt strangely like the Jersey shore, how I remembered the boardwalk, an arcade with kids’ games, ice cream for sale, still open in December — that’s when I decided to try the memoir with a fiction wrapper instead and switch the perspective from first person to third, and it’s freeing me up to pull in more from my past (all with the help of a mask).
But I put it on hold after that first week to take time off for Christmas and let it incubate, and thought with The Force Awakens debut, the fact we’d emerged on the west side of the Ring of Kerry, where they’d filmed the final scene for the movie and it really does feel like another planet — that it meant something auspicious but at the same time unreal, all of it tied somehow to me, our lives, our story.
The Moleskins had dust on them they’d sat so long, they kind of scowled at me, neglected, months without sunlight or water — and though I’d written every day in January throughout England, I’d found a hundred reasons to put it off once we got back to Germany: February was a month of transition settling back into my mom’s; March, already imagining ourselves back in the States; May, another transition at my mother-in-law’s waiting to get back into our house — June, settling back in — and now with it July, I’d run out of excuses. I told myself I should wait until I get a new job, but I think I want to do that even less than rewrite my novel.
I had no expectation of ever making money with it, couldn’t even imagine that, wasn’t sure I wanted to. But I wanted to write something people would relate to, that would make them reconsider themselves and how they live, to fulfill something good in me I imagined, and the only way to do that was to write it, and let it go.
The one Moleskin has a Harry Potter theme I bought at the studio outside London that’s embossed with symbols from The Deathly Hallows on the cover, a triangle with a circle in the center, a wand dividing it in half. It has the artwork from the film on the inside cover, the three brothers who cheated Death, that’s done in the style of the 1930s filmmaker Lotte Reiniger, black and white films with spidery figures, the ones we brought our kids up on, Hansel and Gretel, ‘Aschenputtel.’
Loren visits with his 4-year-old son Arthur and gets into my Star Wars figures, the ones I keep in the Darth Vader case where the head opens when you undo the clasp and there’s a spot for each figure inside, 1980 original edition. But Yoda’s lost his staff, the orange snake around his neck; Obi-Wan, his light saber, all of them in fact: there’s just a hollow spot in the arms where they hid their sticks, pink, orange, red, and blue — and the color of the sabers means something I’ve heard, I get the sense it’s like Harry Potter where the wand chooses you, there’s some connection between the weapon and its master, the stories hidden inside stories.
Arthur appears with a bow he’s made from a plastic clothes hanger and an elastic hairband from one of my girls as a string, rubber erasers for arrows, and he’s dragging something across the garage floor with the bow that looks balled up and matted, hairy like a dead shrew, but Loren just smiles and says, it’s Yoda’s coat.