Kristine Evans

It was Saturday afternoon and we were supposed to go to the gun and knife show.

“You want to make yourself uncomfortable,” my boyfriend said, “that’d be the place.”

He was right. I have a totally irrational thing I do where I become incensed when I’m surrounded by people who I assume voted for Trump.

So it probably wasn’t the best idea. But, in the moment, I thought it might be good for me to test myself in some twisted, self-flagellating way.

Before we left, I had to go through a box I’d stored in our basement for the past five years. My housemate informed me the garage had a leaky roof and the box was water damaged.

Everything in it was wrapped in old newspaper. I reached for the first item on top of the pile and the newspaper disintegrated in my hand. I brushed it away to reveal a picture frame. What used to be a black and white photo now looked like the base of a watercolor—some recognizable shapes, but mostly splotches of gray and dried-up puddles of absent memory.

I may have survived the excavation unscathed if I hadn’t been struggling with my own seemingly absent memory for the past month. My anxiety causes aphasia, or word loss (a writer’s nightmare) and some short-term memory issues, which triggers unshakable thoughts that I have early-onset dementia. Yes, they’re just thoughts, but the OCD brain is specially wired to hold on to the dark ones, creating a loop of nightmarish mental hiccups that no one else gets.

As the box revealed three, then four more ruined, blotchy photographs, I felt like I was looking at my past through the lens of my broken brain. The weight that had taken up residence on my chest for the last few weeks doubled itself.

I wasn’t in any shape to go to the gun and knife show.

We got in the car and the boyfriend just started driving, as he is wont to do. It used to be the thing that calmed him when someone exploded his life once, and sometimes it worked for me, too.

As we drove down Alberta, we passed a storefront I’d passed many times in the past year: Bunnies in Baskets.

“I’ve seen that place before,” I said.

Silence.

“Do you want to go see some bunnies in baskets?” he asked.

He knew the answer. I really, really wanted to go see some bunnies in baskets.

Bunnies in Baskets is a nonprofit that offers therapy bunnies to people in need of cognitive or behavioral therapy, emotional support, or just comfort. But they also have periodic Bunny Teas, First Fursdays, and Hoppy Hours where anyone can go and just hang with the buns. (Note: I am not making those names up.)

We walked in and my anxiety took a nosedive. Bunnies of all sizes, colors, and stylish ear lengths hopped along a U-shaped table in the center of the room while employees tried to brush them and bunny lovers periodically got them to stop and be adored. Some patrons sat along the wall with “bunny burritos,” a rabbit wrapped in a small bunny bed that would sit quietly in their lap for as long as they were being petted.

They were closing soon, so I didn’t get a bunny burrito, but I didn’t need to. Petting the rabbits on the table was like taking a furry Xanax.

The boyfriend isn’t much of an animal person, so he sat waiting patiently for me, periodically reaching out when a rabbit would do a drive-by.

Was I embarrassed that I needed an activity one might find at five-year old’s birthday party to calm me down that day? A little. But anxiety is so insidious and powerful that I will never apologize again for anything I have to do to breathe.

It was Saturday afternoon and we were supposed to go to the gun and knife show. We chose bunnies, and that made all the difference.