Doggone…

I was fresh off the plane, having landed only a dozen hours prior. At my husband’s coworker’s place (his wife picked me up from the airport since my husband was working) I’d showered, changed clothes, and put my hair in a ponytail. I looked different in the light of their bathroom mirror, different than in the mirror at my mom’s house, or in the airport bathroom, or even the lavatory on the fourteen hour flight over. It must have been the tired tax of the intercontinental travel, I thought. I can’t exactly explain my nervousness, waiting for him to pick me up. I was waiting, knowing that everything about my life was changed now. I was so happy to see him, and then more nerves settled in as we drove to our townhome. 181 Via Stafetta, Parco Scipione.

We pulled up to the gate and waited as it opened. We drove past floral vines in bloom and a few fruit-bearing trees to our driveway. My husband got out. Unlatched our gate. Parked our car… and there he was. On the porch, timid and curious, stood the biggest dog I’d ever seen – his name was Bruno… and he was, apparently, mine. He stood on his skinny, awkward, puppy legs as I emerged from the car… and he peed all over the porch. He was clearly as unsure of me as I was of him.

That night, my husband at work, Bruno stood in the corner of our bedroom as I tried to sleep. He stared me down, having stubbornly denied my invitation to come get in the bed with me. (Even though I grew up with Dobermans, it had been a long time since I’d been around a dog his size. It was a little intimidating, but I offered the bed anyway.) I drifted off for a moment and when I woke he was halfway between the corner, where he’d stood in fervent opposition to my welcoming, and the bed, where I laid. Still staring but, at least, closer. I dozed again… and when I woke up, there he was – next to me in the bed. The rest is history.

That stubborn, 120 lbs at his best, bear of a dog was part of the first big change in my life. Throughout it, he made me into the best pal and dog mama and tapped into a great sense of loyalty that I never knew I possessed. He traveled with us (along with his “sister,” Dixie) from that porch where he nervously peed at first sight of me in Lago Patria, Italy to Newport News, VA. We ventured from there to Jacksonville, FL, Barlow Vincent, OH, & Parkersburg, WV. He moved with me to Gasontia, NC, Arden, NC, and then into Asheville proper. Seven cities, thirteen addresses, and he barely batted an eye. He had me and he had Dixie, so he was cool. Less cool once my son was born… but he adjusted like the champ he was. He was my co-pilot in my twenties. Something, if you’ve lived through your twenties, you know you need. We saw each other through a lot of change.

In December of 2014 I did the thing that every pet-parent knows they’ll have to do, but hates the thought of… and I had my boy put down. He’d weathered a lot in his eleven years, but after a couple of months of changing meds around and lugging his now 100 lb self up and down our apartment stairs, I knew. I came home one day and he hurt so bad that he couldn’t even get up to greet me. Weeks later, I held his head in my lap and petted him and told him that he’d been the best boy I could ever ask for, and I thanked him for eleven years of sticking with me. I must have told him a hundred times that I loved him. Then I felt it… I felt him go, and I lingered there to take in every last ounce of him that there was to take.

I miss Brun most of the time… & he holds a place in my heart that will forever be specific to him. So does Dixie, our girl, who has been by my side for almost all of what Brun was, too and then some. I didn’t know if I’d ever want to have another dog, or if I’d just have Dixie Do and then take a reprieve – just work and be a mom – after she takes her leave several years from now. Then… I saw something.

I saw this guy: blakeyboy

And he reminded me of this guy:

brunoboy

I figured I’d fill out the adoption application, have my Charlie meet the pup, let the chips fall where they may. If Charlie was in, I’d make it happen. C isn’t one to fawn over anything artificially… he’s pretty pure that way at the ripe old age of three and a half. He was smitten when he met the new potential pup… and me? Once I saw Charlie fall in love I was gone. Dog gone, all over again, just like when I woke up next to Brun or when a sleeping Dixie opened her eyes and looked at me for the first time. We bring our new boy home on Friday and I feel like something that’s been off kilter is realigning. I get to introduce another sweet love into my world and this time I get to share it with my son. Charlie’s only question after we left the initial meeting with our new pup was this: “Is he going to be my puppy for the rest of his life and I’ll never ever leave him?” When I said yes to both he threw his arms around my neck and squeezed as hard as his excited little self could squeeze. He gets it.

Over-Share & Share Alike.

Part of writing – or talking or singing – about your life is walking the line between the unabashed “Dear Diary…” and some meticulously curated presentation of what you think people want to know about you. It’s tempting to manipulate your audience for your own comfort and sense of control. Tempting as it may be, what’s the point if you aren’t telling your brass tacks truth and allowing that truth to resonate?

If you know me at all today then you know me. My innermost feelings are easily decipherable and completely undeniable. I have no poker face at all, and even if I did I’d probably never have the urge to deploy it. My inability to hide my feelings is part of my charm (I hope). Considering, though, this wide-open disposition, I have a hard time curtailing when I write (or talk). I write like I feel. And I feel a LOT. The last time I wrote a blog I eventually drifted to the cautiously curated side of the line, and my writing lost all meaning. It became what I call “lemonade propaganda” for my circumstances, intended to make it look like I was always making the best of what was handed to me. It wasn’t just my writing that had become that way, it was my real life. Another story for another time, but the point is that I don’t actually care for lemonade.

I quit writing that blog & instead I took to singing more to sort out all those floods – a la Noah & the ark – of feelings I’m always having. I started learning more jazz standards and some old country tunes, both of which led me toward re-learning some favorite hymns. I rediscovered how cathartic it is to sing out – to express – what you really feel. I found it comforting that someone else had written into song, ahead of my experience, something that resonated with me right at that moment in my life. Their song may have been born of experiences that broke the writer’s heart or overwhelmed it for the better, but once they put pen to paper (or vox to the track) their personal experience was there for the rest of us to start sharing. In equal parts, the song goes on to belong to those who hear it, sing along to it, retell it, or are touched by it just as it belongs to the writer who brought it to life. That is certainly worth abandoning a certain level of comfort. I have a lot to bring to life. Here’s to sincerely, so be it, over-sharing & sharing alike.