There are days when being a responsible adult just drains you. Yesterday was one of those for me. A storm had taken out my primary internet on Sunday. This means all day in the office, rather than a half day in and then finishing up my work at home. This means no tadpole kissy faces to step away to look into for a change of perspective. No checking the wildflower buds that whispered the promise of a new bloom after Sunday’s rain. It means I’ll be arriving home after dark. I knew it by mid-day, that it was a day that was going to kick my ass. Still you must press on, because flouncing away in irritation just isn’t an option when there are bills to pay, responsibilities to uphold, tasks to accomplish. I swore more yesterday than a complete month of Sundays. And so when I leave the office twelve hours after arriving, in the muggy and dense dark, all I can think of is getting home and going to bed. Maybe I’ll only take off my shoes and not even my make-up and good clothes. Just fall face down on the bed and be done with the day.
Except, I have this small little furry thing that waits for me every day. He’s no longer used to my fourteen-hour absences, as I am usually home by two or three and he gets to go chase lizards on the patio or just snooze in the sun. Sometimes he annoyingly digs a cool spot in the flower border and returns to the sliders with the dirt of guilt on his nose. But on my hour’s drive home, my resentment builds. I do not want to take him for his nightly walk dammit – I am tired. Why can’t HE be waiting with a cool drink and a back rub? Silly, I know.
I arrive home at almost eleven.. I lug my work paraphernalia, my two-ton purse, travel coffee mug and my empty lunch sack to the door. I fumble with the key in the dark while trying to balance all of this weight. I push open the door and there he is. Delight incarnate, turning into a comma shape with joy, wriggling and sniffing me (to make sure I didn’t cheat with any other dogs during the day you know), and dashing up and down the one small straight-away from door to bed. And I laugh. I think it was the first time all day. But I am still grumbly about having to walk him; to go back into the heavy, muggy and damp darkness and slog the dog. I shrug out of heels, work clothes and grab my rattiest, comfy shorts and a faded shirt, slip on my antiquated Naots (which my feet thank me for immediately) and load up the phone with “Dark Night of the Soul”. I grab for my headset while a brown and white tornado circles my feet in anticipation. He darts out the sliders, racing around the patio while I locate the leash. He is dancy and teasing when it comes time to clip the leash. Can he not tell I’m agitated, frustrated and tired? Just. Be. Still!
But as I walk out the gate and he dashes off into the darkness, a sea breeze blows up out of nowhere, carrying the scent of hundreds of blooming Plumerias. The palm fronds rustle, rubbing against each other like they dream they are cricket legs. I turn on the music and we begin to walk. Jasmine greets me as I hit the main street and the breeze picks up speed, as if trying to match the piano tempo. And so we walk, dashing past slumbering cats and investigating new piles of debris dropped just for his inspection. Long grey beards of Spanish moss sway gently in the breeze and the left-over scent of new-mown grass earlier in the day adds to the fragrant damp earth smell under the oaks. It is the scent of life, of living, outdoor things. He circles around me, encouraging a faster tempo as if to say “Come on, come on, there’s stuff to see, sniff and investigate. Get a move on! Time is wasting.” We startle night-wading birds in the culvert backwashes and I stop momentarily to watch their silent forms disappear, dark forms against greater darkness. We get to the lake and a thousand frogs are discussing pond politics politely but insistently. Sweet grass is growing somewhere nearby and it marries with salt water, verdant vegetation and cedar as the breeze nudges me along. He is happy; darting, trotting, peeing – just being a dog.
By the time we get back home, the night has washed the day’s grime from me. I sit on the patio and watch the moonless sky, noticing the different cloud shapes and luminosity as they move across the sky while I listen to music. I take off my make-up, spritz rose-water, make the coffee, and head for bed. I am still tired, but now it is a different, sweet kind of tired. An evening I would have missed the beauty of altogether if not for a small, furry thing that waited in anticipation for that which we do together. And I am thankful.