Furry Soul Sister

We’ve had a reliable pandemic routine, Daisy and me. 

Early morning snuggles,
Mid-morning walks,
Afternoon Zoom interruptions.
(She climbs right on my lap, to say, “Enough!”)

This routine has served us—me—well. There have been many days when daydreaming almost got the best of me.

“When are we getting out of here?”
“When will life be normal again?”
“What is normal, anyway?”

Then along comes Daisy to move the day along. She doesn’t prescribe to wallowing. We make a good team.

Which is why the other day when I reached the bottom of our driveway, turned to my left to hook my girl in for our morning walk and she wasn’t there, momentary confusion enveloped me.

Maybe she needed a pit stop in the backyard?
Nope, not there.

Did she bolt?
She does that from time to time to visit a neighbor dog.

As I made my way back up the driveway, I saw that Daisy was sitting in our garage, by the passenger side of my car dutifully wagging her tail, encouraging me to see today’s walk her way.

“You want to go in the car?” I asked, with special emphasis on the word car.

(My family often reminds me that dogs do not understand sentences. I’m not sure they fully grasp Daisy’s unique intellect, but whatever, I play along.)

Her tail thumped faster. 

A walk by the Connecticut River, that is what getting into the car means to Daisy. Sure, it’d been a while since we walked by the river, but I only had forty-five minutes to walk Daisy, hop in the shower and…

For god sakes, it’s a pandemic. What am I doing with my day besides staring at a computer, watering vegetables and flowers and making dinner? 

I pondered the question for a beat before deciding there was no time for her shenanigans. 

“Come, on, Daisy,” I said, again.

She followed me back down the driveway, this time ready as I fastened the leash until I attempted two steps forward. She sat firm, bolted to the ground.

“Come on,” I said, again.

Her nose shot up in protest, the canine version of a look-away.

“Fine!” I acquiesced. I too was now craving time away from our usual stroll around the block.

Into the car she and I went, off for the five-mile drive to the Connecticut River. Daisy right beside me, with the AC blowing her hair, we were Thelma and furry Louise.

Soon, the “Oldest Running Ferry in the Country” sign greeted us, along with vaguely familiar scenes.

The Hortons tilling their spectacular sunflower patch. 
A fellow parent that I hadn’t seen since preschools days.
Astute political pleas.
Lots and lots of creative hearts.

By the time we made it back to our car, over an hour later, I was sweaty and overwhelmed with a realization that somehow I’d previously overlooked: it’s summer.

This summer would surely be different, not usual or carefree. But, only the seasons cemented in far-removed nostalgic memory ever truly fit that description. The real ones are a salty mix of chaos and fun obligation.

And, while “normal” sounded appealing, what I was really craving was the mental freedom to just be…

Starting with a Wednesday morning river walk, just my furry soul sister and me.

Imagine


If all of the things you were looking forward to, had planned for, and rehearsed in your head like a favorite movie ending,

Proms, and trips, 
Concerts, and work milestones,
Tournaments, and
Graduations.

Imagine...
Those events: cancelled.

Then, the things you'd started to let go of, like;

Dinner together, at home,
Impromptu back rubs and “meet you on the deck” happy hours,
Neighbors who formerly tossed a wave, having actual social-distanced conversations,
Teenagers sharing their unhurried views,
You doing more listening than talking (now there was plenty of time for both).

Imagine...
Those pieces: found.

And through it all, the waiting.
Some days anxious,
Other days content,
Most days caught in between.

The whole time knowing  
going back
to the unknown, altered, strange
Waiting World
would be an honor
because not everyone would.

Imagine...
All of that?

What is there to say?


I am…
anxious 
frustrated
determined
resilient
lucky
loved
scared
apprehensive
confused
amused
bored
overwhelmed.

I wish…
I could find my focus
That I knew when this would end so I could “enjoy” it more
I had more comfy sweatpants
I’d bought more toilet paper before the world went crazy
I trusted our leaders
My teenagers were at school with their friends
I didn’t panic whenever I hear someone sneeze
For exactly the family I have.

I am thankful for…
Time, at home, with my kids (even when they bicker)
The sun
For the healthcare workers and truck drivers and grocery store clerks and teachers and…
Smiling faces of colleagues on Zoom
Snuggles with Daisy
Books to write and read 
New recipes and people at home to eat 
Texting with friends 
Exercise and meditation and
Time.

The Why



“What’s your why?” the trainer asks. We are halfway through a complimentary fitness consultation.
Hmmm…Overall Health? Disease prevention? Not having a tourniquet around my stomach when I sit in pants?
Any of those reasons could have done as my why. Come to think of it, all of them should have been the why. And yet, they didn’t seem to answer the question. 
“Working on that,” was my reply.
“The why is important,” he says, before ushering me to the weight station.
I was a journalism major in college. I am well versed in who, what, when, where and why. In school, the why was the nucleus to which facts radiated. The why was all that mattered back then. If facts were the cardinal directions, the why served as the compass. I was a pioneer discovering truth. 
Now as the world picks teams based on versions of facts, the whys rendering us all for or against; clarity has left me. 
Where did my conviction go? Not to mention my waistline.
A few minutes later I am standing in the full length mirror learning correct free weight form. It’s just me and him. The Why Guy. 
He is fixated on showing me the proper way to lift weights. All I can see is the figure in the mirror and she’s most definitely not Jane Fonda—now or back in 80s exercise prime.
“Firm core, hips square, butt back,” he says, crossing the room to adjust the music.
What is the proper musical backdrop for a middle-aged weight-form challenged me? He picks Lizzo. I fight back a giggle and recommit to concentration.
Firm core, hips square, wait no…hips back, butt square…that can’t be right. I think it was hips square, butt back, firm core...yeah, that’s it. The words at least. I look absolutely ridiculous. 
And that’s when: my why hits me. 
“I’d like to take her seriously,” I say, to the me in the mirror. “But not too seriously.” 
“Pardon?” the Why Guy asks, now back from the musical sojourn. 
Having rejiggered my compass, it's time to clarify the facts. “I don’t get the butt back part.” 
Don’t giggle. Don’t giggle.

This isn’t going to be easy.