Thursday, February 21, 2008

Villa D'Oro .....a fictional village in '70s Phoenix

Annie loved crawling into her bed at night.

Before the divorce, the new baby, and the summer move to Phoenix, back when she was a housewife who lunched with the Junior League, her mother had painted the twin bed olive green with streaks of black and glued a curly cartouche to the center of the headboard. This fit of early 1960’s do-it-yourself decorating fever had been corrected, sanded and restored to the original blond Heywood Wakefield mirror finish. This was during her matching handbag and pumps phase, when she had once put a rinse on her blond bob and it came out light blue, perfectly matching her cornflower blue shift. This was a very fashion forward moment for Roswell, New Mexico.

Annie made her bed every morning looking forward to when she could crawl back in. The Winnie the Pooh cotton sheets were smooth and cool and the heavy cotton bedspread sealed her in and she could escape in her dreams from the sad disappointing place she now lived. She rubbed her cheek on the pillow and looked at the shelves made of stacked plywood cubes her mother had painted white. Inside were her Disney musical jewelry box shaped like an upright piano, a rainbow coin bank with snoopy lying on it, many miniature clay dishes she got in Mexico, a small eclectic collection of picture books, a children’s bible, The Chronicles of Narnia, Stuart Little, Wind in the Willows, Runaway Ralph and the Little House on the Prairie books and a yellow threadbare wind up sleeping rabbit with blue striped ticking in his ears.

She untucked herself from her cocoon to hold the rabbit and brought it to bed. It had been wound so many times over the years that she couldn't wind it even a full turn and all it’s fur was rubbed off around the key. It slowly plinked out ‘Here Comes Peter Cotton Tail’ and very gently the rabbit rolled its head back and forth. The musical rabbit had been given to her when she was in the hospital as a very sick newborn baby.

She wasn’t able to keep milk down, and was losing weight. The doctors thought she might have a virus. Then they thought she might be allergic to her mother’s breast milk and put her on formula. She was fed around the clock and continued to projectile vomit and was getting dehydrated. This led to surgery and the diagnosis of infantile hypertrophic pyloric stenosis. The lower portion of the stomach that connects to the small intestine is like a ring muscle that allows food to pass from the stomach into the small intestine. This opening, the pylorus, narrows when the muscles around it enlarge. The surgery is called a pyloromyotomy, and the surgeon slices the pylorus to relax it while the inside lining is left in tact. Dr. Lemon fixed her tiny insides, and for a few weeks she kept her milk down and started gaining weight. Then she started giving up the bottle again and loosing weight and strength. She was readmitted to the hospital for X-rays and observation. The X-rays showed that the pylorus was again not letting the milk through, and this time the doctor prescribed smooth muscle relaxers, scopolamine drops to be put in her milk. From noon until 5 P.M. she took three bottles of milk and formula with the drops and began to come back to life. Her grandmother would talk to her and she would respond by kicking and cooing and emotion that was heart warming to everyone present. Annie knew all these details thanks to notes her grandfather had taken that she found in the back of his client address book. She of course had no memory of this, just a ragged scar on her stomach and this rabbit.

The music slowed and stopped but she was already asleep.

It was windy and she was barefoot on the damp grass wearing only the oversized Jerry Jeff Walker t-shirt she slept in. It was dark but she knew she was outside of their old house in Roswell, where she had lived before her sister was born. There was only the light of the moon when the clouds blowing by didn’t obscure it. The neighbor had a light on in the living room but her old house was dark. The backyard where she used to play on a swing set looked so much smaller. Everything did. The wind was blowing the swings and the trees were groaning. She wanted to see into her old room so she lifted up her arms and pushed off. Up she flew to the window, but it was too dark to see in. Annie leaned to the left and circled the yard and swooped down low over the split beam fence and landed on the neighbor’s balcony. She knew she was dreaming now, the color was different in dreams, like a Batman comic book. She didn’t know much more than her old block, which was made up of three houses with hers in the middle, and that’s as far as she flew. On the next block over was a large house where she had trick or treated. Her mother had fashioned a pair of pink sleeper PJ’s into a rabbit suit and she had hopped. The man who lived there was a wealthy oil man and drove a big convertible and he and his wife had made a big fuss over the rabbit at their door and had offered to get her some radishes.

When Annie woke up she knew she had been flying. The sensation stayed with her for a few seconds and then it was gone. She was energized by it and always woke up famished.

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