Monday, July 19, 2010

Love, PGH Style

Here is where I confess that I had an emotionally affair while in Pittsburgh.  He is a man of few words, and he has a lot of body hair, which I'm not usually all that into.  But, I'm pretty sure he could take Greg down with one punch, and I felt a strong emotional pull toward him, and I think him to me.  I'll tell you how I met him.  We had saved the zoo for my birthday.  Unlike some of my fellow tree-hugging, animal loving liberal friends, I am not anti-zoo.  I would rather see an animal in its native environment to be sure, but I tend to believe, because of what we humans are doing to those native environments, zoos are a necessary evil.  Animals in a zoo, some of them, aren't particularly happy with their lot in life, that is sadly true.  And sometimes you can see that all too clearly on their faces.  But, I know zoo personnel do the best they can, and since they clearly exist with me or without me, I'm drawn to them and the chance to see so many magnificent creatures up close and personal.  In short, wherever I travel, if there's a zoo, you will generally find me there at least one full day.  Marissa knows this and tolerates it to a degree, so she good-naturedly agreed to make that my birthday treat, but when the day started, she did not feel well and didn't feel like leaving bed.  I was exasperated, wondering whether I should stay behind or go one without her when Mother called.  The conversation went from initially civil to poisonous very quickly.  I've managed to block out exactly what she said to me, but it was upsetting, causing me to throw the phone across the room.  So, with that, I left Marissa to sleep, locked securely in the room with the Do Not Disturb sign on the door, telling her to call me when she was up and about, and I would come back, and I drove myself to the zoo.

I like the Pittsburgh zoo.  There are some amazing features to it, such as the tanks for the polar bears and sea lions so you can walk below them and watch them swim.  It's pretty amazing.  But, my heart was heavy.  Here it was my birthday, and I was by myself with my Mother's words stinging in my ear.  I wandered into the primate area, rather hang dog, but still curious to watch these amazing, intelligent creatures.  There had been a number of gorillas out in a good sized enclosure outdoors, but there was a large, lone male inside the building, sitting forlornly toward the back of the enclosure.  I stopped to take a photo, but stayed there and considered him, thinking he looked like I felt.  I was vaguely aware of the man standing next to me, watching as well.  His family was lagging behind, so he was hanging out, waiting for them to catch up.  No else was around, so I felt no particular pressure to move on.  I made eye contact with the gorilla, he looked so sad.  He watched me back, maybe thinking the same thing about me.  I had my hand on the glass, and he moved toward me, coming right up to the glass in front of me and put his hand up against mine and pressed his head to the glass (I swear to God this is a true story).  The man next to me, his family just now catching up to him, was losing it.  His eyes were so wide, I thought they might pop out of his head.  He was motioning wildly for his wife, "Did you see that?   Did you see that gorilla come right up to that lady?" he was stammering excitedly.  I was equally amazed, but remained calmer so my new friend wouldn't leave.  He let me take his photo, posing almost, but I forgot to turn the flash off!  It no doubt flashed right in his eyes.  By that time, he was drawing a crowd, so he turned away from them and eventually moved away.  Whatever moment we had was done.  I went back by before I left, but he wouldn't come back to me.  Maybe he thought I would break him out of there, and when I didn't, he was finished with me.  Maybe he knew his work was done, and he knew he had made me feel better.  I wished I could have done the same for him.  But, I did feel better.

It was late afternoon, the sun hanging low in the sky, before I pulled away from the zoo and headed back to the hotel, where Marissa still slept.  She got up and we had a late, incredibly spicy Mediterranean meal down on the Strip District, our time almost done in the city.  I would leave behind a special fellow that I will always remember.

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