When the Dalai Lama visited last month, he told a story about two sick mice. One was given treatment in isolation, while the other was treated in the company of fellow mice. As you could probably guess, the mouse that was socialized throughout the duration of its illness recovered faster and more fully than the other mouse. His Holiness used this anecdote to illustrate the importance of friendship and social support, especially during difficult patches when one might be somewhat reluctant to seek out the help of others. Being around people is a comfort, even if they can’t fully relate to your situation, and even if you don’t verbally communicate.
I almost laughed when I heard this story, for two reasons: 1) This “scientific study” was in absolutely no way cited, and no one but the freaking Dalai Lama could get away with that kind of randomness, and 2) The story totally reminded me of my dog at home. My parents’ dog, I should really say.
My parents’ dog, Sophie, is a little bitch.
Because I blog with the utmost grace and integrity, I obviously mean that in the literal, scientific, “female dog” way, definitely not in the cruder, “I’m going to bite your face off if you get too close,” way. Definitely not. Sophie is a unique dog in the sense that she likes to be around people, but she doesn’t like to be with people. She will follow you around the house, sit at the very edge of the couch you’re sitting on, and even initiate a round of fetch… but she won’t get close enough for you to actually take the toy. And so, the traditional, relaxing game of “fetch” quickly turns into a more tiring and frustrating game that I like to call, “come here, you little bitch, and let me play with you.”
Sophie is not a normal dog.
So, why am I talking about mice and bitchy dogs? Like Sophie, I’m a bit antisocial. I do try my best not to bite people on a regular basis, but I understand her need for space. I also completely agree with the D.L. about the necessity and healing power of companionship. I lived in a single apartment for the past two years in Kentucky and, while I loved the apartment itself, I wasn’t a huge fan of the solitude. So, I was excited to hear, over the summer, that I would be living with another female staff member during my two years in India… until I got here, and realized that said female staff member did not end up signing a contract with the school. I haven’t written at all about my housing here in India, mostly because it’s been in a weird state of flux. I was unsure if someone else was going to be hired, and if that potential new hire would be a single female, and if that potential new single female hire would end up moving in. Difficult to make a house a home when you aren’t sure about its occupancy. But guess what?
I now have a housemate!
Laura moved in a few weeks ago. I sat with Laura on the initial flight to India, from Chicago to New Delhi. Had I known, prior to arriving, that I would be living with someone around my parents’ age, I probably wouldn’t have been too enthused, and she would have felt equally hesitant about living with a 24-year-old. And yet, it works out quite well! She moved mainly because my house, "Suncliffe," is way better than her old one… newer, less moldy, nicer view, on a generator, etc. An all-around upgrade. (I've seen "Suncliffe" spelled both with the "e" at the end and without, but I choose to use the "e" because I'm classy like that.) I think she’s a lot happier here, and I know I’m a lot happier with her here. Having someone to talk to and laugh with and just sit by is so comforting… as is the thought that, if a monkey should happen to break through my skylight and mercilessly feast upon my flesh, she will probably find my dead body before it becomes unidentifiable.
Oh, so comforting.
But not all monkeys are evil. Take this langur, for example:
He’s not leashed because he’s particularly dangerous; he’s leashed because he’s Woodstock’s secret weapon. A heroic traitor to his own species, he chases off the pesky rhesus monkeys and keeps them from preying on students, staff, and snackage. I shall call him: Supermonkey. Except, that’s really lame and cliché. Supermankey? Luke Cageless? Banandiana Jones?
Regardless, in morning assembly a few weeks ago, the students planned a “game” that involved this guy. They called up a representative from each grade, and then a man walked in with the leashed beast. In response to a sea of confused/amused faces, they announced, “Langur chicken!” Yes. The extraordinarily well-thought-out plan was to see how close the class reps could get to the monkey before they got too scared. Or, you know, before they lost an appendage. I just sat there in astonishment. I have witnessed some utter craziness since my arrival here, but this had to be a joke. Right? Right?? It was not a joke, but it was also not carried through. The principal stepped in immediately and put an end to the ridiculousness, like a Superman saving the Supermankey.
I, myself, have a newly-acquired superpower of sorts. A little something I like to call cable television.
It’s a convenient byproduct of Laura’s move. We were an appliance match made in heaven; I had a microwave/oven and food processor, and she had a washer, dryer, and television. So basically, our house is awesome. You can see a segment of the awesomeness below, and additional awesomeness will be posted and elaborated upon at a later date.
Now all we need is a dog. Preferably one that can play fetch...