I’m leashing up the girls, who are dancing. Lillian flails into the air like Eddie Van Halen while Delilah trots around the living room. I work the clasp on Lilly’s collar, but it’s challenging because her tail is wagging her head. Delilah runs under the kitchen table. I coax her out while Lilly noses through the closet apparently choosing her morning pooh bag. I finally get them each assembled and head for the door. But I have a small pit in my stomach. It’s been a while since I’ve done this alone.
Said the single girl.
I hate to suggest that my big bundles of hairy joy are anything other than angelic, but in the face of a squirrel, cat, or bunny neither voice- command nor leash is reliable. I worry that I can’t keep them entirely safe at worst -at best, at least out of trouble. What works best is a one person per dog situation.
I’ve managed to duck this topic for a while.
I have a boyfriend.
His name is Jon.
He helps with the girls tremendously. He helps with my whole life tremendously.
It’s comforting. And it’s terrifying.
Because I think I may be losing my single girl life skills. I may be getting SOFT.
The girls and I had been a pretty tightly knit threesome for the better part of four years. We went to school, the park, on visits and occasionally, on dates together. And I managed. It was not always well-choreographed, but we generally got in and got out.
That rather sums up the way I’ve lived. I purchased my home alone. I chose and paid for my automobiles by myself. When I turned 40 I went to Wyoming to see the Teton mountains, solo.
Now Jon and I are home shopping together. He helped me pick out Betty Blue Bug, my cute new Volkswagon. He tends to make the travel arrangements – I pretty much just get in the car.
He makes everything so much easier. And still it’s so hard to let go.
What if I forget how to buy a home, purchase a car or get on an airplane by myself? What if I forget how to be alone?
I’d become so good at filling my Sunday afternoons with single silhouette biking or kayaking. If I don’t have a friend at an event, I make one. I’m an expert at walking into parties unaccompanied. I’ve fixed toilets, pumped out my flooded the crawl space and hunkered down in power outages with only Home Depot to back me up. I’d even convinced myself that my life was better that way.
One day last summer I was lamenting out loud my concerns not only about my hollowed out checking account, but my career which was swirling down the toilet. Jon reached over and took my hand.
“I’m here,” he said quietly.
It was nice to hear, but honestly, how could I ever really expect another person to take me on.
Last weekend I had the occasion to visit the Emergency Room at Anne Arundel Medical Center, and then to spend about a day and a half in their care.
Jon spent those 30 or so hours sitting in a chair in my room and running back and forth from the house to get me things and check on the girls. About the first thing we did once I was sprung was “suit up” (Jon’s words) Lillian and Delilah and head out for some playtime. It was a beautiful day and we’d heard the Quiet Waters Park dog beach was re-opened.
Jon got ahead of me as we walked down the asphalt path, Lillian on one side, Delilah on the other, both spread the length of their leashes. He looked like a dog-plane. A happy, bouncing dog plane. We stepped onto the beach where the girls started their sand spin, Lillian quick to violate the park boundaries and Delilah soon splashing in the stagnant seaweed.
We laughed and called them to us. They sweetly obeyed. I breathed in the South River air. And then. I let it go.
Lillian and Delilah enjoying some bonding time with Pappa Jon.