There’s a lizard loose in my house. His name is Rufus. He’s Liza’s lizard, Liza who is about to go off to college on Wednesday. We got Rufus two years ago after she wore me down and convinced me that he’d be good company for her. She took good care of him, and I got a little attached to his quirky head movements and big eyes. A few weeks ago, she decided to turn his home on its side so that he’d have more room to run around. Well, he found more room.
It’s been six days, and the internet tells me he can live without food for up to three weeks. Plus, the worms we are putting out in his dish are disappearing, but we have a mouse problem, so I am not sure it’s Rufus eating the worms. He is messing with me.
I am a bit obsessed with finding Rufus. Whenever I come home, I check the dish to see if the worms are there. I check the warm spot we made to entice him back. I look over and over under the heaters and the stove and the fridge to see if he’s hiding there. I even dream about him.
I realize that focusing on Rufus is a way to avoid thinking about the fact that Liza is leaving in four days. It’s a problem with a potential solution. I don’t really want a lizard to starve to death in my house either. But really, it’s easier to think about Rufus than about life without Liza.
I mean, she’ll only be an hour away. That helps a little. Her sister Lena went to college four years ago and I survived. I see Lena pretty often, it seems. So I tell myself maybe it won’t be a big deal.
But I find myself feeling very melancholy, and I wonder why, and then I remember.
My baby is leaving.
She’s a thoroughly awesome person. She is signed up for amazing courses at Wesleyan with titles like “Thinking Animals” and “Social Norms and Social Power.” She is ready to apply her brain to ideas that matter to her. She’s going to do great.
But she’s my baby.
Does she know how to do laundry?
If Rufus reappears, he just won’t be enough.