I've been to a lot of weddings recently. And I've also seen a lot of dogs.
We live by a dog park and every day when I bike home from work I see them, big and small, black, brown, and white, terriers and mutts and pit bulls and collies and purebred poodles, French bulldogs and scruffy chihuahuas with legs like sticks.
I imagine Mitt Romney driving with his dog on the roof of his truck. I wonder if that dog sees the world the way I do: leery of what could happen with his owner at the wheel.
I remember the dogs I saw in Chile; emaciated, scrappy things wandering the streets.
I think of the dog my father broke out of the pound when he was younger than I am now, and how, years later, he stayed up all night on our lawn, cradling Tommy when there was nothing else he could do.
I think of what our dog, this hypothetical, imaginary thing we call aimlessly around the house, would do to fill long afternoon hours. I measure the height of things in our apartment to see if tails would knock them over. I worry about how long it would take to train her. There's a narrative for her forming in my mind. I plan for her the way others plan weddings. It seems like these are parallel choices: here you are, making a decision that will dictate who you spend your time with, and where, and how, and just what all that means, and there you are, welcoming a living, breathing, beautiful thing into your life, making space for it where maybe there wasn't before, learning its tricks, eccentricities, preferences, vocabulary. It seems like the kind of decision you labor over until it is made, and once you are sure, that yes, this is person you want and need by your side, and yes, this animal belongs nowhere else as much as it does right here, maybe then you learn to accept the things you can't predict will happen. Because they will happen, with or without him, with or without her, and who knows how much richer your life could or would be.
The metaphor stops there. People aren't dogs, though I like to imagine that they are. Dogs can't talk; they can't rub your back or buy you blood glucose monitors when you lose them (again). They can't make the kind of babies you might someday want.
But they sure are awesome. Dogs, that is.
We went to the Oakland Coliseum today to see the A's smash the Seattle Mariners. I believe they won because I spent the last two innings drawing Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes as dogs. That, and they are professional ball players.
Sometimes I think the world looks better when you close your eyes and pretend everyone is just a big, barking animal. Then I open them and remember, oh yeah, that's not so far off. And what's better - we can both catch balls.
Starting in late April, I will be selling 100-word stories as postcards. All of the images and stories are my own; my boyfriend Ryan helped me upload, tweak and design the postcards. I will bring a set of postcards to Stories on Stage in Sacramento on April 27th, when a local actor will perform my short story, "Big Dog."
It's my goal to get these postcards out into the world, mailing stories around the globe. Spread the word!
She sat on her hands while she waited. It was impossible, the waiting. Men and women walked by, cable cars clanked, cyclists ducked through traffic. Somewhere amongst the Chinese food, the bus transfers and the countless pigeons, he was coming. She hoped he looked like his picture, hoped he liked rollerblading and science fiction. Her watch was loud with ticking. A man skidded before her on his rollerblades, looked her full in the face. “Finally,” she said.
At the dinner table several months later, she brings up the ad she answered.
“What ad?” he asks.
She decides not to answer.
Danny never really tried at anything. He'd open his palms to the sky and let experiences rain down on him, wander through the streets following the whims of his stomach, take buses til the end of the line. One day on his travels he caught the tail of a paper airplane. “Follow me,” it read, and listed an address. It was further than he thought – beyond the city’s square, past the bus depot. Finally the numbers stopped. Danny waited. He got hungry. Buses passed. He closed his eyes, opened his palms. Nothing. He unfurled the airplane. “Gullible sonofabitch,” it read.
Bernadette had never flown before. She circumnavigated the world by boat, train, horseback, and in friendly people's cars. She covered the Argentine Pampas, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, crossed the Sahara on camel. Then the friendliest person she knew was thrown from a horse in northern Italy. Bernadette was mid-mush on a dogsled outside Nome, Alaska, when she found out. She made it to the nearest airport by nightfall and stared at the great beasts in the sky. She considered the earth and how strong it always felt underfoot. Not friendly enough, she thought, and returned to the snow.