Editor’s note, September 21: Plans for Flip’s dismissal have since been put on hold, so please read this with full awareness that the author’s unselfish concern for the rabbit’s happiness was mostly bulls**t.
My brother has most of my stuff, and my rabbit, Flip, with him in Buffalo. After weeks of experimentation with litter box filling and placement, my brother has concluded that Flip is not happy. Instead of chewing on the antique fireplace and chasing Harley, as he ought, Flip spends most of his time under my brother’s desk. He also prefers using the carpet as a toilet, something he hasn’t done since he was fixed. My brother insists he cares more about Flip’s emotional wellbeing than how much his apartment stinks of bunny piss, but the consensus remains: Flip needs a new home.
Flip’s urine-based rebellion and his equally adolescent hiding surprises, flatters and utterly depresses me. I didn’t know my company meant so much to the little guy, and I don’t want to let him go. That was the cost of coming here, though, wasn’t it? Letting everything go, so I could experience life in another country? We can find him a good home and wave goodbye as he hops into the sunset… can’t we?
I admit that the composition of my grief is only 80% Flip. The other 20% is for a lost pretense of future security, and contains the antique quilts, vintage Pyrex, and sheets too ironic for my mom to sleep on, all stored not far from the desk under which Flip sleeps.
I feel like an ass for leaving everything behind, not necessarily because leaving was foolish, but because having and eating cake is not a wise goal. I wanted and still want framed prints and dependent creatures and fuzzy bed coverings, while also following my supposed “destiny,” footloose and fancy-free. I wanted to leave all financial or emotional responsibility in Buffalo, and return to find everything ready for me. Meanwhile Flip dwells in shadow, doubtless high on fumes from the rubber casings I covered my brother’s computer cords with to protect them from a rabbit who used to care about life enough to chew on them.
I wildly hoped, moving here, that living such an uncertain (and barely-financed) existence would either prepare me for, or push me into, creating that necessity-driven masterpiece that would launch my career. After that, I would sweep my inflatable life onto my white horse and carry it off to a cottage in Massachusetts, funded completely by checks from Harper Collins children’s lit department and the New Yorker.
Meanwhile, reality bites. I’m here for the school year, and my rabbit grows listless. Should I beg my brother to keep the poor bunny, both of them unhappy, while I play with Inkscape?
Letting Flip go is going to hurt like hell, and to avoid feeling that pain, I joke about clichés. Sure, he’s just a bunny, small and short-lived. But I love him. I want him to be waiting for me when I get back, and yes, I admit, not just to see him tilt up his head for me to pet his nose. I want to know that I’ll find a way to synthesize everything I achieved in New York with everything I achieved by leaving New York, and Flip is a talisman for that. I want to have my cake and eat it too. I want the quilts and the freedom, the rabbit and the travel, the experience and the security.
But knowing me, that may never happen, and even bunnies deserve a place in the sun.