Just as I was feeling overwhelmed with the task of excavating through 8 years of emotional rubble to rescue the embattled Keex, I got a call from my EX. He needed a favor. The nerve! But he was in a bind. The gig that was supposed to (appropriately) deposit him in Vegas... the modern-day Sodom & Gomorrah... the city that celebrates sin and excess...the land of pleasure-seeking addicts; was actually sending him to Europe for an indefinite amount of time. According to him, he couldn’t afford not to take the gig. So, he needed me to take custody of our most precious joint possession: our Boston Terrier, Brooklyn.
We had driven 5.5 hours to and from a Northern California breeder to pick up our “dog-child”. We did lots of careful research about breeds and breeders to make sure we were bringing just the right pup into the family. We decided a Boston Terrier would be the ultimate breed for us because they’re compact little powerhouses that thrive on exercise, just like me and my EX. We chose Brooklyn in particular because, when we arrived at the breeder and my EX plopped himself on the ground amongst the litter of puppies, she was the one that curled up and snuggled with him as if she were staking claim on her daddy. We decided upon the name, Brooklyn, because that’s where my EX and I met and fell in love.
I’ll be the first to admit that Brooklyn was “daddy’s little girl”. While mommy was constantly busy running our home-based business, teaching Pilates, and massaging the rich and famous; Brooklyn would spend hours at the dog park with her out-of-work, doting daddy. Her little 18 pounds of lean muscle would explode through the park; jukin‘ and jivin‘ across the field, dodging yappy chihauhuas, smiley Labradors and slobbering Boxers. Brooklyn would ride all the way to the beach on her daddy’s motorcycle; tongue out and ears flapping in the wind as she observed the sites and sounds from the San Fernando Valley all the way to Santa Monica. There, in true Terrier style, she’d dig ferociously in the sand as it created a mini cyclone over her head. Then, she’d promptly and proudly deposit her little body in the hole she had dug for herself.
If my EX and “dog-child” weren’t at the park or at the beach, they were hanging by the pool at her boyfriend, Cisco’s, house. He was a younger Boston Terrier but twice her size and with twice the energy. Cisco’s daddy (also an out-of-work actor) and my EX would sip bottles of Coronas with 2 limes by the pool as the dogs entertained them with games of fetch, tug-o-war and diving in and out of the pool. Well, our little princess was sort of timid when it came to swimming. So daddy would hold her in his arms and swim with her. Then he’d let go and, with outstretched arms, cheer her on until she doggy-paddled furiously to safety. My EX was always there for his baby girl. He was such a good daddy. Brooklyn was his pride and joy and, during his ego-crushing time of unemployment, his incentive for getting out of bed. And now he was asking me to take custody of her.
My gut reaction? Fear. Dread. I was in no emotional state to be a good mother. I could barely take care of myself. I was lucky if I remembered to brush my teeth and comb my hair before leaving the house. Plus, my schedule was nonsensically overbooked and as overwhelming as the shock I was trudging through. How would I ever have the time or emotional capacity to replicate the action-pack life, love and attention she was accustomed to? Not to mention the fact that I was merely a guest in my “sister-friends” Lower East Side tenement apartment. How could I possibly impose any further? How could he impose on me any further? I didn’t owe him anything! Why should I make his life any easier when he seemed intent on systematically destroying mine? The bitter bitch in me could’ve said “no”; forcing him to remain in dreaded unemployment and the downward spiraling of his ego which has always been defined by the current state of his career. Didn’t he deserve to suffer after what he did to me?
But there was no bitter bitch inside of me. I couldn’t find her. Nor could I find the big-hearted woman. All I could find was the survivor in me that knows how make any situation work; no matter how challenging, uncomfortable or disruptive it is to my life. I simply detach emotionally... and hustle. I exist on auto-pilot with a to-do list to keep me on track and feeling alive. So I said “yes”. My biggest challenge wouldn’t be resuming my role as mother. I loved Brooklyn, my “little girl”, my “monkey face”, my “stinky butt” with all my heart. My biggest obstacle would be facing my EX for the 1st time after finding out about his drunken 1-night stand. He was on his way to NYC with my daughter. I was anxiety ridden.