by nadinerae

While prepping the veggies for this week’s soup, I dropped a few carrots on the floor. Minutes later, I stepped on them. Because they were still there. Same with the bread, turkey, olives or any edible or semi-edible item I may have dropped. Still there.

Sophie was the last of our four animals in the house: two cats, two dogs. One by one, all have died. Six years of saying goodbye. Adjusting to the quiet deafening silence of zero animals has been challenging. I have lived with either a dog or a cat since I was in kindergarten. Plenty of overlap, but never without. For nearly my entire life, there has been caution about leaving doors open, what food gets dropped or left out, which houseplants to avoid, and where to hide the plastic bags from grocery shopping. And my floors have always been clean, at least from an animal’s perspective. That level of conditioning and expectation doesn’t just disappear. In fact, when my children came along, we stepped up the game with safety locks, baby gates, and outlet covers all over the place. I lived in a house that was fully cat-,  dog-, and child-proof.

My children are ten and eight now, so all of the child-proofing measures have long since been removed. They’re bright people with a good deal of common sense, so there’s nothing to keep in the back of my mind every day in regard to their safety at home. So with all of the animals gone now, and no plans for more to join us, I now begin the process of unconditioning myself to be on guard for someone else’s safety at all times. I can leave out all manner of food, own any plant I want, and keep the grocery bags in full view at all times. My home, without ceremony or even my permission, has been unproofed. My role of sentinel is over. Decommissioned.

And now I’m cleaning my own floors.