I remember being out in the backyard at my dad’s house when I was 13 or so. There was a privacy fence running along the back, and it captured my OCD attention because it didn’t match the post and rail fence that enclosed the sides of the yard. One day, I was inspecting a hole at the bottom of the privacy fence when my dad came outside and asked what I was looking at.
Keep in mind, I was 13. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets had just been released, and I was also reading the Chronicles of Narnia to myself for the first time. Every hole in a fence was an instant portal to another world, if I could just figure out how to get through it. That’s exactly what I was looking at, but I also had enough sense to not admit to that in front of an adult capable of having me committed.
Instead, I just pointed to the hole and said that I thought a chipmunk had made it. My dad knelt down and looked at the edges for a moment or two before proclaiming it, “a rabbit-sized hole.”
This was probably the worst thing he could have said to me. After all, I had just read Alice in Wonderland, a story that would fascinate me to this day. Now that hole was not only a portal to another world, but a portal involving magical rabbits that led to Wonderland!
Sometimes I feel like I owe my parents more than just verbal thanks for buying me books and letting me dream as a kid. (Aside to dad- this story is coming out the next time you look at me and ask where I got my skills from. It’s not just mom’s fault for buying me all those books.)
The point of this trip down memory lane is that the concept of a rabbit-sized hole stuck with me. Not necessarily literally, as I’ve never been good with spatial concepts (see The Bureaucracy Strikes Back for proof of this), but the inherent magic in it. Now, a literal rabbit-sized hole can be any size, as rabbit can range from 2 pounds to over 25 pounds and can compress their skeletons like cats to fit into smaller spaces. But as I learned recently, a rabbit-sized hole can also be metaphorical- a chunk of a heart stolen away by four lucky feet and a wibbly nose. But most of all, a new rabbit-sized hole can be appear when you least expect it.
10 days ago, I submitted an application to be considered to adopt another rabbit. The process normally involves multiple levels of approval and several classes. However, my application was fast-tracked and I find myself getting ready to go pick up a bonded pair this afternoon. I went through a lot of emotions between then and now- excitement, grief, panic, anticipation, anxiety, joy, and fear all cycled unpredictably. One minute, I’d be happily browsing the website and reading bunny bios, and the next I’d be in the library holding one of Eppy’s favorite toys and unable to deal with how it still smells like her. I spent almost an hour scrubbing down her old cage and exercise pen, and alternated between fear that the new ones would still smell her on them and not settle in right, and excitement that the things were no longer packed away on the bottom shelf of a bookcase and hidden behind a chair. I worried over names- how do you name somebunny that you’ve never met? I stressed over how I don’t have any new toys for them, or soft blankets or pet pads for them to sit on, or even a bag of food that they’ll like. I thought how nice it will be to have someone to say good morning and good night to everyday, and to hear soft hops across the floor again. Essentially, my every thought was affected by the new arrivals and if I was really ready to bring them home.
In the end, it’s the memory of looking at that fence 15 years ago that is going to get me out the door today. After all, the magic is not in the known world on this side, but in the unknown waiting just on the other side. A new rabbit-sized hole has appeared in my heart, and it brings the promise of an excellent adventure with it.