When she arrived, knocking on the door, she saw me sitting on the kitchen floor, half-stripped down and battering my legs. Letting herself in, she looked at me inquisitively for a moment before I said the word that explained it all. “Fleas!” She jetted back out the door. Getting up myself, I ran out behind her and then sat on the lawn, picking and slapping. 

I’d walked in unsuspectingly, to pick up the mail and make sure the house was locked up. A few minutes later, tickling legs made me look down and then screech with horror. I have, to put it mildly, unpleasant past experiences with the tiny beasts. We quickly evacuated to a house that was clean and pleasant—a breath of fresh air for us both. Picking blackberries and heirloom tomatoes together, we talked of teenage drama and family angst. We compared similarly swollen left knees, lamenting the ways our mid-40’s bodies are beginning to tell on us. 

There is nothing I can do to solve the unsolvable dilemma she is facing in her home.

There is nothing she can do to solve the overwhelming needs in my clinic.

When we finished in the garden and were walking back, I turned around. “I’m experimenting,” I said, “to see if walking backwards helps my knee.”

She followed my lead, doing the same. Then she turned back around, shrugged her shoulders and said, “Walking backwards hurts my other knee!”

We laughed.