Saturday, July 2, 2011

Quiet Streetlights & Loud Fireworks

Every few nights, Ben & I will put on real shoes (we live barefoot and in sandals all summer long) and make the 3.5 mile walk to our local Starbucks. I'm usually the one that wants to go, but he's never turned me down. We leash up the dogs - red for Snow, turquoise for Stella - and set out. When it's hot out and 92% humidity, we wait until the sun has dipped below the horizon until tomorrow. Rarely, inspiration strikes early in the morning and we make the trek before I go to work.

There are so many reasons why I love these walks, but the biggest one is nostalgia. They remind me of when I first got Snow, and he had to live outside. To spend quality time with him, I was either sunbathing on the back deck or taking him for long walks in my sleepy college town. We had a 1 mile loop for the early, fog-filled mornings and a 4 mile journey for after I got out of school or work. When we got on campus, I would take him off his leash and let him run to his heart's content. I hated seeing him live in that kennel, and it did both of us good to get him out and stretch his legs.

When I got up in the morning for work, I would peek out the window of the Big Nasty (a tiny house I shared with three other girls with a landlord we called the Warlord). Without fail, Snow was standing outside his Igloo filled with cedar chips, staring intently at the house. His alarm clock went off a few minutes before mine, and he was always ready first. He repeated the process at 5:03 every evening, waiting to greet me when I got home from work.
Those times with Snow filled me with purpose. In the midst of an unhappy relationship, he was ecstatic to see me without fail. He loved me unconditionally. He made me commit to something that was hard and he held me accountable. When baby opposums made their way into his kennel and died of heart failure, he watched with interest when I suited up in gardening gloves and had to toss it out of his cage. Every time I dropped it and squealed, he looked at me inquisitively, like "What's the big deal?" He did the same thing when I would let him run through the cornfields and he would come back with groundhogs. I would scream bloody murder at him and he would drop them at my feet as gifts. He never understood why I wasn't as excited as he was.

When someone let him out of his cage at night as a prank, my roommates let me bring him inside because I was so upset. He was uncomfortable being inside and kept us up all night with his nervous antics. A few weeks later, he was shipped off for five months of R & R in Connecticut with my mom and dad, where they did the majority of his housebreaking and all of his spoiling. When he came back to live with me in Ohio four and a half years ago, there was no more separating us.

He's getting older now, and I don't know how many more summers I will have with him. But when we wander up to Starbucks and get iced coffee and a venti cup of water for him - and Stella - Ben lets me walk quietly. The streetlights flicker and sometimes go out, which startles all of us. Tonight, and other times throughout the summer, fireworks boom from behind the air force base and on the other side of a hill. None of us notice. Stella is watching Snow intently, Snow is watching me, and I am lost in my own thoughts. Sometimes Ben will grab my hand and I know he is saying to enjoy tonight because we don't know what tomorrow holds. And I grab back and he knows I am saying that I wish this could go on forever.

1 comment:

  1. Okay so I don't know why this made me cry but it did!! Blame it on the pregnancy hormones :) I loved reading this and although I have only seen Snow from afar I know how special dogs can be :)