One for the road

It’s been a long weekend, but not in a good way. I feel like I’ve been gone from work and the world for weeks and that I haven’t slept for at least that long. This, despite the fact that without Barky to walk, I can now sleep in and even, as I’m about to do, go from the couch to bed without a detour down the hall, down the elevator, out the back doors, around the parking lot, inside the building, up the elevator and back down the hall.

As much as I begrudged these walks, I only did so before we went on them. Once I was in motion down the hall, I was having as much fun as Barky. It’s good to go outside. I’m a better version of myself when I’m outside, and on any day during which I spend any time outside, which is what Barky forced me to do.

I would see the mood of the moon, stars and sky. I would feel the wind, smell the water if the wind was blowing up from the river, hear the trees whispering amongst themselves, and feel the cool kiss of snowflakes on my cheeks. If there was fresh soft snow on the ground, Barky would romp through it, snuffling into it and digging after what seemed like fresh scents on the same patches of weeds and grass he sauntered past every day. If it was an icy night, he would still sniff the air and ground, but move right along. If it was too hot and muggy out, as it almost always was late in the summer, Barky would do his business and turn right back for the cooler confines of our air-conditioned abode. The tropical heat overwhelmed his British genetics. But on a night like tonight–warm and clear, perhaps even a bit cool if a breeze stirred, Barky would linger.

He might convince me to as well–to stretch our walk past the circuit of the parking lot down to the entrance of the neighboring townhouse community, the end of the cul-de-sac where 3B races his bike in circles, across over to our building’s pool, down the sidewalk under the juniper trees and farther down until we had completed a larger circumnavigation of our building than the parking lot allows and we returned in through the back doors again–energized but not awakened.

We would both somehow be in a better mood, be better balanced, be more securely grounded for those few moments outdoors. No matter that in a few short hours, before most people awoke, we would stumble out into the dawn light, or predawn darkness in winter, and again perambulate and peruse through our neighborhood–we still needed that one last stroll before bed, that one for the road, if you will.

I needed him to take me there, just as he needed me to unlock our door and push the buttons in the elevator to get him there, as evidenced by the fact that I’m about to roll off of this couch and slouch down the hall to slump into slumber without so much as a look out the window. Perhaps I can’t bring myself to face myself in reflection as I look out over what Barky considered his domain. Perhaps I am currently temporarily blind to the beauty of the commonplace that I so recently reveled in and simultaneously took for granted.

And, perhaps I will step out onto the balcony before I drift down through the dark doorway of our bedroom where I will carefully step around the brown lump of a rumpled bed that still lays on the floor along my side of the bed. In the morning, after lying in my bed with ears pricked for the sound of a sigh, groan or contented stretch from that bed, I will again step around it on my way out of the room.

And perhaps, before I light the stove for breakfast, I will again step outside and survey the day in the only way Barky knew how–directly, intimately, curious and happy. I will, however, skip the pissing on the neighbor’s shrubs part.

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  • Anonymous

    I would have no words to offer beter than you already do. I can say that many people will never feel that bond of a boy and his dog. Even me a 42 year ol boy. I have kept my guy closer to me these past days. I am not sure how we could get closer as he cant seem to be anywhere I am not, but we have been.
    TCB on love supreme.

  • Yeah, we were that way here. He would wait up with me–well, he would sleep next to me on the couch as I stayed up, often writing blog posts or email. Only when I would get up and go down the hall to bed would he go back to his bed. In the morning, we both would wake up and stretch synchronously at 6 a.m., just before the alarm went off, so as not to wake Mama, before walking back down the hall to get breakfast and go for a walk. And he would be the first one at the door when I came home every evening.

    Still, even though he's not with me here on the couch, he's still with me.

  • Sabrina

    This was one of the most beautiful elegies I've ever read. Thank you for putting fingers to keys and sharing this with us.

  • I'm so sorry, Papa. It sure does sting, doesn't it?

  • I am so sorry.
    I just got caught up on blogs, and I am so sorry to hear about Barky.
    It just hurts…we know.
    I am so sorry for you guys.

    …after Eddie died….it was just odd. There were times when I just knew I'd just heard him. Or I'd turn to give him something, only to realize that for a split second, I'd somehow forgotten—I somehow expected him to be there, waiting for me. With a lick. With a look. To cock his head to the side & raise his eyebrows. Just…all those little things that we come to expect in our every day….

    I am so sorry for you guys. It's all the little things…well, and the big things that you'll miss.