I’ll cry if I want to…

In two days time I am driving across the country to begin a new job. One of the reasons I started my WordPress account is that I was laid off from my job about 4 years ago, and I needed some way to channel my thoughts and occupy my time. This new adventure is such a huge change for me, not only because I have not had “regular” employment for 4 years, but also because I have never lived away from home. I don’t mean that figuratively – I have literally lived in the same house for my entire life. I didn’t go away for college and the longest I’ve ever been away from home is for 3 weeks.

I had big plans for today. I was going to run some last-minute errands, finish packing, and have a marathon of Summer Heights High playing in the background. At about 2 pm today I heard a thump in front of my house followed by the worst siren I’ve ever heard. I live in an area where sirens, car accidents and even fights are not all that unusual, but something was different about this siren. I opened the front door to see a dog laying in the middle of the street, who had just been clipped by a car. The husky was trying to move out of the middle of the street but his back legs had been badly injured. The “siren” had been his cries of pain. I ran out to the middle of the street and held the dog in my lap for about half an hour while waiting for animal control to come and assess his condition.

My neighborhood has had it shares of ups and downs. Over the decades, there has been a lot of transition, changes in the community and even violence. But today…today I was so proud of my neighborhood. Everyone responded so quickly. Seconds after I got to Balto, neighbors were directing traffic around us, calling 911, contacting animal support, and getting in touch with the dog’s owners. As I held Balto cradling his head in my lap, his 11-year-old owner came running up, tears streaming down her face. She held my arm and kissed Balto’s head, saying “But he has to be okay. He’s a dad…and he has a dog wife.” It took everything in me to keep from bawling in front of this child, the whole time my brain saying “Dammit kid, I am barely holding it together right now.” I hastily wiped off the dog blood from my arms and hands so she wouldn’t see.

At one point I looked up at a woman who was helping me to keep Balto calm and said, “Today is my birthday…” (I told you I had other plans for the day). She looked at me with tear-brightened eyes and said, “Oh shit.” Animal control came and transported Balto to the emergency vet. I don’t know what’s happened to Balto. I don’t know his humans, only that they live somewhere a few streets down. I don’t even know their names.

I fell in love with that dog in all of five minutes. And such is life. We love. And we say goodbye. It only takes a moment to love, and we are changed by that love just as quickly. And then, we have to pack up our boxes, fill up the car, and take our leave. And it sucks. We bleed out our love and cry out our loss. Loving and saying goodbye is messy, bloody, and hard; then we wake up and do it all again the next day, because we have to. And we speak in metaphors because sometimes the truth requires words that we don’t have.

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The Poodle Who Was Gravely Ill

There are many reasons why I love my dad but this story is the most recent:

My dad sells antiques and has cases in a few antique shops where we live. Those who sell antiques are, well…an eclectic and eccentric bunch. It’s my belief that the “odd ball” to “normal” ratio is greater than in the general population. They are a fun group…but yeah, odd sums it up. As part of his contract with one of the shops my dad is required to put in “floor time” meaning he has to be in the store to answer questions, help customers, etc. On one particular day another antique dealer came into the shop with his wife to work on their case. They had their poodle with them. It was the husband’s habit to carry the dog in a baby sling much like this one:

baby

While he tended to precious poodle, he would sit in a folding chair and direct his wife on how to display the merchandise in their case. At this point in the story, my gut reaction would have been “Screw you,” but maybe that’s why I’m not married. I wasn’t there, so I’ve had to use my imagination to fill in the blanks, but I picture him spoon feeding the poodle a medley of fresh veggies and foie gras , while sitting in a director’s chair, wearing a beret, enjoying a smoke from a long gilded cigarette holder, and stroking his pencil-thin mustache:

camp

Dad was quite used to seeing the couple and had always assumed that there was something wrong with the dog. Otherwise it would just be madness. Dad had just finished with a customer and walked around the corner to see the poodle ambling around on his own and appearing to be in particularly good health.

“What the hell?! I thought that poodle was a cripple!”

To another employee, “Did you know that poodle can walk?”

“Of course he can walk.”

He was shocked. I’m not sure if he was more annoyed that the guy let his wife do all the work while he toted around his completely non-crippled dog or because he felt foolish that he had felt sympathy for said completely non-crippled dog. Or maybe it was that everyone else seemed to know the dog was not gravely ill.  I’m guessing it was probably a combination of all three.

“I never asked what was wrong with him. I didn’t want to be rude. But that sonofabitch has been carrying around a perfectly healthy dog for years! I always thought he was an invalid. The nerve!”

Ahhhh Dad…I love you.