The first time I saw a zebra, outside of the zoo/wild animal park/National Geographic I mean, okay the only time, was in Vermont.
We were not at Smuggler’s Notch where we normally go and love but couldn’t get to that year, so our vacation was already average. I was on the lookout for a moose, as usual. A dozen years of looking for one moose in it’s common domain of Vermont, but no. It shouldn’t have been that difficult, certainly less difficult than seeing, say, a zebra.
We were driving down the road, to or from some bland destination, and I look up to see this zebra, romping behind a chain link fence, just like anyone’s horse might do. Except this horse had black and white stripes, and was definitely not a horse.
“Oh my God!” I said in disbelief. Sadly, I’ve had many false alarms in my moose spotting attempts, so only one child responded to my exclamation.
“Holy shit, is that a zebra?” Rebecca said.
“Oh, right,” Aidan said, never looking up, jaded already by sibling trickery at the ripe young age of ten.
My husband laughed. “You are on drugs.”
We were laughing our butts off. “You will not believe it until you see it. Turn the car around.”
And so he did. Many times, passing back in forth in front of the zebra owner’s house, as we desperately tried to feel like we had found our own little piece of Africa right there in rural Vermont on our pathetic vacation that hadn’t been going that well until we discovered our little friend.
This became our daily tourist attraction.
“I don’t care where you take us today, as long as we pass the zebra,” one of the kids would say. We’d go 20 minutes out of the way to see it.
“Who even wants a frickin’ zebra for a pet?” Aidan said. “They’re not even friendly.”
“Where do you go to get one?” Ariana asked.
“Africa, where do you think?” Rebecca rolled her eyes.
“Are we almost there?”
“What if it’s not out?”
“If we stop, do you think they’ll let us feed it?”
We all knew what ‘it’ was. ‘It’ was our new obsession, our own little freak in the cage.
“Are we going to pass it or not?”
In unison, Joe and I would roll our eyes and say, “Not this time, children.”
“Oooh! Why not? It’s so weird/he’s so cute/it’s so stripy…..”
That was four years ago. We leave in a few days for Vermont, thankfully, for a week at Smuggler’s Notch. I will continue my relentless search to get a glimpse of one damn moose. And I’m sure I’ll have to hear about that zebra while I’m looking.