My best friend is leaving today. He’s only going back to the Valley where he lives now, but he doesn’t drive a car so it’s hard for him to get around. He also doesn’t speak English, so calling each other is out of the question, and of course we can’t text each other if he doesn’t understand language or how to type, so for the most part all communication with him must be made through an intermediary, his owner.
That’s right, my best friend is a rabbit. This all came about a few years ago when my then roommate got a small bunny as a pet and came to live with me and my cat. At first, we kept the bunny in a cage in the kitchen, with limited time out for good behavior. However, within a week or so, we set up a baby gate along one wall of my living room and made a little playpen for the bunny to eat, work, and play in. He doesn’t really work per se, but the amount of effort he puts into chewing cardboard boxes and baseboards, and re-arranging the stuff in his playpen is a feat in of itself. He would eventually live there, not paying rent for the next two years, until my roommate and her bunny moved out last December.
I went through a classic case of depression last winter when he left, and I don’t know if I’ve ever fully recovered. Don’t get me wrong, I know depression is a serious thing and I’m not trying to mock people who are really suffering in the world, but a part of me was really attached to that bunny. When he and my roommate moved out, not only did I become quite despondent living on my own, but my bills went up, my rent doubled, and it was just like all of a sudden I woke up one day and he was gone.
I looked forward to seeing him when I got lonely and depressed because he gave me the one thing I truly needed when I feel that way, which is unconditional love and understanding. This is why we have pets. They give us both of those things in return for a place to stay and they make it easy to love them back.
Over the past 9 months since my roommate left, I’ve kind of had to learn how to be social again and go out and meet real people, or call the “human” friends of mine I have in my phone. I gotta be honest, it’s not as easy as hanging out with a rabbit in your living room and it’s definitely twice as expensive.
The longer I have stayed in Los Angeles, I’ve seen my friends meet their future spouse, get married, have kids, and eventually move away. When I moved here 12 years ago, I had two of my best friends from high school living less than two blocks away from me. We all hung out and went to the beach during the day, and hit up bars like Star Shoes at night on our endless summer vacation. I was 27, had goals and a twinkle in my eye, and life was just like the proverbial pamphlet in my mind that I imagined they gave me when I moved to Southern California. The sun was always shining, there was always a new cool spot to check out, and I had a great group of really good people living in Hollywood here with me to experience it.
Then one day I wake up, it’s 2009 I’m now 33, my eyes are red and tired, and the only way I can see all of my friends again is to get on a plane back to Jersey and go to one of their weddings. I knew that this was going to happen. Growing into an adult and making adult decisions takes years, but I just figured by THAT time I would have found someone to love and we’d make adult decisions and go to these weddings together and everything will be right in the world. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work out?
Truth is, in that time I did find someone to love. We have been to all my friend’s weddings together, and we were a couple for many years, but her and I are NOT together anymore. Sure, we still love each other, but more like friends, and less like lovers. However, when she brought that rabbit to my life in the fall of 2013 and we lived here for two years under the same roof, I have to admit…I fell in love again….with the bunny.
Because it was time, she moved out last winter. I felt the immediate monetary loss, but when she took the rabbit with her,(which I knew was going to happen since it’s her bunny) I felt the emotional loss. I miss that bunny every day he isn’t here. Luckily for me though, she goes out of town and I get to bunny sit for a couple weeks every other month. I look forward to when he comes to visit, and on the mornings when he has to leave, a part of me gets a little depressed.
I know it may be strange to be best friends with a three year old bunny, but Rocco and I have a strong bond. He is a rabbit, and according to the Chinese zodiac, I was born in the year of the rabbit. We both have similar character traits like loving carbohydrates, getting into trouble, having to have things a specific way, and sometimes being a stubborn jerk in the process. I love him and accept him for who he is, and I don’t try to change him. We make for good friends. He’s always happy to see me when I get home, and when my cat goes into his cage to drink out of his water dish, he sometimes bullies her, but trust me, she deserves to get bullied. I love my cat, don’t get me wrong, but she is a girl, and Rocco is a dude. It’s just different. We’re like bros. He is a “man’s man”….or in this case, a man’s bunny.
It’s been difficult for me to find good people to call a friend in the past few years, and I’ll be the first one to admit, it’s probably 65% my fault for not trying. I know they’re out there, and I know they are just a call or text away and I’m grateful for that, but when someone is there everyday, and then suddenly they’re not, it just…..sucks.
I guess when Rocco has to go home after his mini vacation at my place, all these old feelings of losing someone start to come up and this time, I find myself writing a blog about the idea of dealing with loss. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it.
In France they say “La Vie Change”, just like the song I am listening to. It means Life changes. It means my friend now has two kids and is living in Haddonfield NJ, instead of no kids and living in Hollywood. It means some friends are 3000 miles away and I have to make new ones, even if they can never compare to that rabbit in my living room. It means my ex girlfriend who I lived with for three years after we broke up, now has a new boyfriend and I’m still single and sometimes I feel weird about that.
I know life is constantly in a state of change, but just knowing that doesn’t prepare me for what it’s like to live it once it happens. That part is up to me, and if you couldn’t tell already, I’m managing, but I’ll be honest, I wish some things didn’t change.
I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the feeling of losing something or someone in life. It’s tough having to go on without them. I lost a pet in 2011 and it devastated me and my roommate, but out of that horrific time came Rocco Valentino. I really miss those times when I first moved to L.A. and my friends and I explored the city and ate at Swingers and made out with chicks at The Roost, but people grow up and make decisions based on what they want in life. I’m happy for them, and maybe even a little envious because I’m still making decisions and I don’t always know what I want.
I know I’m a culmination of every person I have met, and every experience that didn’t kill me in the process. I’m part married guy, part ex-girlfriend, and part cat-rabbit because my animal instincts say I’ve been here before, and I know I’ll be ok. I have my moments where it all goes to shit, but there will always be someone for me to talk to, or someone who will listen, or some one who runs into the kitchen when they hear the cupboard close and does a happy dance at my feet to get some form of a cracker or chip out of me. I know I’ll figure it out because I have best friends, even though one of them peed on the kitchen floor the other day.
Now if I could just figure out that someone to love.