The Dog Run

Fridays are hard, because by the time I sit down at my laptop to post, it’s late and I’m exhausted from the week. I thought about taking it easy today and posting a picture of the soft figs and bitterly dark chocolate we ate last night in remembrance of our honeymoon in Spain. Why would I post beautiful food photos and write about the romance languages when I can tell you about the night Bob and I locked ourselves in the dog run?

The dog run isn’t really that. It’s a stretch of pavement that runs alongside our building that we cut through when we go out the back way (which is always, when we have the dog). It’s overrun with vine and weeds in the summer and impassable in the winter for the snow. There’s two covered grills year round, and a wooden staircase that leads up to the eight apartments whose doors back up to that particular part of the building. We’re the only ones that let our dog loose down there, and we only just started that. I don’t thin anyone even smokes there. You can’t forget your keys because the doors at either end are locked, and stretching between them is a four-story brick wall on one side and a chain link fence snarled at the top with barbed wire on the other. There are two rat traps. It’s not as unpleasant as you’re imagining after those last two sentences.

A few weekends ago we found ourselves suddenly and inexplicably in the foulest of moods. There was something about dishes and me stomping out of the kitchen and hurling myself into the bed? There was something about Bob not apologizing. There was something. we dragged our resentment with us out the back door because it was the day that we take the dog to obedience classes. We didn’t want to go together but we both like the dog too much to be the one to bow out. I asked Bob if he had his keys — not to be nice, but as a passive aggressive reminder that I wasn’t bringing mine because I don’t like carrying things in my pockets. We trekked down the stairs in silence with the puppy, him with the puppy in his arms and me with nothing, not even keys. We walked out the first door into the dog run. We walked the length of the sidewalk. We walked to the second door. Bob fished around in his pocket. Nothing.

I was too angry to laugh about it. I recognized the fat dose of cosmic kismet that locked us in that short alley together, but I didn’t like it. I was too irritated to appreciate that Bob spent the next ten minutes climbing those wooden stairs and knocking on all eight apartment door, plotting ways over the barbed wire at the top of the fence, and then knocking on all eight doors again. I was still in a huff when a neighbor we’d never seen before finally answered and let us back in the building. I knew I should sigh with relief and laugh, but the thing is, getting stuck in the dog run and then getting out again didn’t make anything better. I was still mad.

I knew I would write about this story as it was happening. I knew I had to wait, though, until I figured out what to make of it. As always, “the difference between a blog post that reads like a diary entry and a blog post that someone would want to read is usually just time passing.” What’s to make of a pointless fight between spouses broken up by a bit of ironic bad luck, though? Weeks later, I’m sure it is not much. There is this, though.

Earlier this week I heard a story on the radio about a woman reuniting with the son she gave up for adoption. He looked for her for years, and she waited for him. The day he showed up at her office, she took the day off and took him out to lunch. They talked and they cried and they filled each other in on so many years. He didn’t ask, though, and she didn’t say why she gave him up. And then the son had to go. Back to his home and his own young child. The mother watched him go with panic rising in her throat. It hadn’t been enough. It wasn’t how she imagined it. Knowing each other, that was good, but the fact of their relationship was still bad. In a later interview with the radio host, the woman explained how she came to terms with the new situation — she told herself, “Nothing can get better right now. It can only go on and on forever.”

When we made it out of the dog run, our lot was marginally better, but it was still comparatively worse. I wanted everything to be better right then. That’s not how relationships work, though. They heal and grow over time and, if you’re lucky, you’ll get forever to try.

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