Late-Night Dog Walks Soothe a Restless Mind
I don’t mind being soulful but I hate feeling nostalgic. It makes me feel like time is passing faster than I can collect it.
The pandemic makes me bored at night. I get sick of being online and consider doing things I have never done before, like going into the kitchen and putting a copper kettle on the stove and making myself some real writer tea. The problem is I don’t have a copper kettle and I don’t like tea.
Last night, my thoughts were swirling but I couldn’t get a hand on them. I felt like one of those pudding cups you buy in a four-pack at Ralph’s, the kind you devour but small piles of pudding remain in the corners. It’s hard to scoop out those piles — even with a spoon. So I decided to take my dog for a walk.
It was windy and dark and my mask was billowing into my mouth and the dog was walking so slowly and deliberately that I was afraid a coyote was tailing us. But there was nothing there: just the wind and my almost 14-year-old dog and me. My dog has tiger eyes but he moves slowly now. We walked together and the first stars were out and the shadows made me jump but there were no wild animals, just a few late-night squirrels.
As we walked by a neighbor’s house with big front windows, I saw kids hopping around the house in pajamas. They looked splashy and happy. They reminded me of my own kids when they were little. Watching these kids cavort around as if they were at a carnival made me imagine I could smell baked cookies from beneath the front door. I wanted to knock and ask for a glass of milk. I wanted to knock and ask if my own children, now 15, 18, and 20, were in there. I wanted to check and see if my kids were darting around their polished wooden floors wearing the matching fruit pajamas I’d gotten them years ago for Hanukkah.
It was time for me to go home and pour a glass of wine. My dog froze as if he was hunting on the Serengeti. I wondered again about coyotes but then I saw someone’s cat out for an evening walk. I tightened the leash around my hand and said, “Leave it.” Not that my dog cares what I say. He can’t pull me over anymore when he is in cat or squirrel hunting mode but he is still obstinate. He refused to move. I gave the leash a tug and wondered if he was fixated on the cat in the street or the kids in the window. Maybe he was remembering when the kids were little, too?
I don’t mind being soulful but I hate feeling nostalgic. It makes me feel like time is passing faster than I can collect it or remember it and that makes me feel like a fading rose and I don’t want to feel that way. I want to feel like a vibrant violet or a daring daisy or some other alliterate flower. Fading roses remind me of flowers pressed inside books and there is nothing vibrant or daring about those.
These are the little nuggets that lodge in my brain as I walk my dog. I peer into other people’s windows, watch for coyotes, and cruise the neighborhood with my trusty geriatric dog. The wind blows and it’s chilly and it is time for fuzzy socks and a glass of Cabernet. I notice the big windows have gone dark in the house where the kids were dancing. I give the leash a tug and my dog and I head toward home.