Plus Ça Change…

I went to the park on Sunday for the first time in months. Life has changed so much in the past year, I almost don’t recognize it as my own. There have been some wonderful improvements, some (okay, lots of) horrific stress, and a dramatic shift in day-to-day priorities. When I started this blog almost three years ago, I had nothing to do but walk the dog and write about it. Now I’m commuting to school, single-parenting, and was, for a bit, working part-time as well. The dog? Other than loving him to death, his needs were not being met. Heck, I hardly feed the kids.

Both of us need to get out of the kitchen more often.

Both of us need to get out of the kitchen more often.

Sunday was gorgeous– about 21° (70° F) and sunny. The Ex took the kids out for the day, and I decided it was time for me and Our Best Friend to spend some quality time.

I sat at a picnic table, reading, a book, while Our Best Friend bounded about in pure joy. I marvelled at the fact that I knew he wouldn’t get into a fight, that he came every time I called, and we revelled in the spring-at-last weather.

But something was different. There wasn’t a soul I knew, and not only that, I didn’t feel like  walking around and making new acquaintances. Something had shifted, and a little sadness crept into my day. The place didn’t feel like mine anymore. It felt public, the way I feel at City Park– beautiful, and familiar, and full of strangers.

Then Robert walked in. I last saw him in December, when we ran into other in the supermarket,  a bizarre, out-of-context meeting, but nice. “Hey!” I greeted him, glad to see a familiar face. “Where’s Happy?”

“Oh, I had to put him to sleep in February.”

I just looked at him in shock. “What happened?”

Happy had cancer. And his lungs looked “milky” in the x-rays. Wasn’t always eating. Didn’t want to go for walks much. Treatment wasn’t working. I knew it wasn’t a matter of money– Robert had spent thousands fixing Happy’s knees just a few years ago. Happy was twelve, and it was his time.

“So what dog are you here with?” I asked him.

“Oh, I didn’t get another dog yet,” he said. “Not ready. Have to process this first. I just came to visit. Second time I’ve come since Happy was put to sleep.”

I just shook my head and smiled sadly. “Robert– you have to get another dog. You know you do. You’ll never be happy without a dog in the house.”

“Yeah, well, I have to get a few things straightened out, then I will. I will, don’t worry.” And Robert said good-bye and went for a stroll around the park.

A few minutes later Blanche came in. Her dog, Princess, had also died within the last year, but unlike Robert, she’d gotten another dog immediately. In fact, she now had two. I knew Princess had died because Blanche had affixed a memorial poem to the bus shelter wall, but I had no idea what had happened.

“I just saw Robert,” I told her.

“Did he get a new dog?” she asked.

“No,” I told her. “Said he isn’t ready. But he has to. He’s not going to be happy until he has another dog.”

“For sure!” she exclaimed. “He must! You know Princess is gone–”

“I know,” I said, “I saw the poem, but what happened?”

“She ate oleander leaves. The vet had her in intensive care for three days, but it was no use. By then I had Katie here”– she indicated a husky nearby– “and I had it in my head that I was going to have two dogs, so I searched all the rescue sites until I found Kiwi.”

Kiwi is an absolutely gorgeous and sweet-natured Australian shepherd mix. She looks nothing like her predecessor Princess, but she’s very like her in temperament.

Blanche and I chatted a bit, then she went off to find Robert and put in her two cents about him getting a new dog.

Even though I don’t even know their last names, I find I care about these near-strangers, no matter how rarely I see them. Something brings me back to that park, the park where everything has changed but my friends remain the same. And even though I’m barely a blogger anymore, there is some part of me that won’t let go of that either.  There’s this feeling that if I skip a month, if the blog archives move from March to May with no April in between, something has ended, something has gone wrong, something is missing.

It’s April 30, 11:00 p.m.. I have a two-hour drive tomorrow at 10:00 a.m., but something is making me sit here and write my one post per month, so in spite of the changes, the new responsibilities, the new priorities, I still have this one thing that was suppressed and suffocated for years…. so I can say I still write, if only occasionally.

Maybe that something is me.

About one person's view

I'm the mother of three girls, three cats, and a dog. All need constant attention, but only the dog likes to go for long walks!
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12 Responses to Plus Ça Change…

  1. shoes says:

    I am glad, for you and my own personal selfish reasons, that you still take the time to write. I think I found your blog shortly before you experienced a lot of big changes in your life and I can’t remember how I came across your site

    I like this story, of change and disruption balanced out by the shadows of the familiar found in those friends at the dog park. Sometimes it is the “friends” who’s last name you don’t know, who you only casually chat with, that can make the difference.

  2. thatjenk says:

    Well I like to read about you and YBF regardless of how infrequently or frequently. And my archives skip from October to February, so I know how it is to both be preoccupied but also brought back.

    Your park sounds great. Great people, great dogs. And great relationships based on that one thing that connects you all – different but intersecting lives.

    Hope all is well,

  3. Sometimes in the midst of constant upheaval and stress it’s important to have something that doesn’t change. 🙂 Why I’m telling YOU this I have no idea as I’m certain you already know this.

    There are certain foods we turn to when we aren’t feeling well, or when we’re feeling down; our comfort foods. There are also comfort places as well, for me it is the woods with my dogs for you it’s the park, despite changes in people and dogs, the park remains the same. I’m glad you took some time out to nurture yourself. 🙂

    BTW, I dread running into people when they are missing a dog. 😦

    • It is awkward and sad, isn’t it?

      My park will always be the place unconnected to anything else in my life, where I can say what I want and be who I am and no one has any expectations– other than I pick up OBF’s poop.

  4. Kristine says:

    I kind of know what you mean. I have been suffering under some major burn-out and sadly, the blog was the first thing I let go of. I told myself I would take a week off but it was such a great week, I could just kick back and relax without worrying about having something to say, that one became two. And then three. And then six. Eventually I did start to miss it and I do have a desire to write and share and connect. I just can’t go back to the way it used to be anymore, which kind of sucks in a way. But I don’t have it in me right now.

    I am glad you are still writing when the inspiration strikes. I hope it’s something we never have to completely drop. Change is okay but I know I would miss blogging, and the people I’ve met, too much. Like my dog, it has helped keep me sane!

    • I can’t imagine my life without my blog friends. Each is so different, and they’ve brought such a special joy to my life.

      Hope you dust off your keyboard soon. You’re such a wonderful writer– witty and fun and intelligent. Yours is a voice that should not stay silent.

  5. I’m glad you got some special puppy time in, that you hooked up with some old friends at the dog park, and that you stop in here whenever you find the time.

    They say the best friends are the ones you can neglect for a long time and then connect again after a long absence as if you had just spoken yesterday. Maybe your occasional dog park visits and rare blog posts will figure out who those best friends are.

    BTW, isn’t school ending soon? Will you have more free time or will you be filling it right up?

    • School just started again yesterday for summer term: a six-week intensive course, plus an internship that landed in my lap very suddenly. I am now “working” 5 day/week for the first time since 1997!

  6. Pingback: What I’m Grateful For | The Dog Park

  7. Pingback: I Think It’s An Attitude Problem | The Dog Park

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