Month: March 2017

Ominous Silhouettes: On Nothing and Someones.

I don’t remember if it was he who said it to me, or me who said it to myself.  These days, it doesn’t seem to matter much.  It’s the kind of thing that can be said only once, then takes years to undo.

I remember it now as an ominous silhouette standing above me.

“Nobody is going to want you after me.”

With a Leap Year Anniversary, it was hard to tell if I was one day before, during, or a day late to the celebration.  But somewhere between February 28 and March 1, there is the memory of a year before, where my Someone and I said, “Okay, for good.”

Somewhere in the space of missing time, a year was collected.

My smart pastor friend Bryan told me this week about how Taoists believe that you cannot gain something from something.  Contrary to our popular belief that you must work for everything you have, he explained the belief that in order for Something to come in, you must first have Nothing.  Otherwise, there is no space for the new Something to exist at all.

“No one will want you after me,” the Ominous Silhouette had said.

No one did.  And then, where there was No One, years later there came my Someone to fill the space.

I am spending a lot of time in the in between again.  This time, between an Ominous Silhouette and an ever lighting up Now.  And there is space for years counting half my lifetime spent filling with Something to avoid the Nothing that was left from an Ominous Silhouette.

And one year ago, on Leap Year Day– a mythical day of sweet Nothing in time– I became someone that Someone would want.  Or rather, I was given just enough space to agree that it was who I had been all along.

Tight Leashes: On Loosening Grips and Starting Again.

My Someone is so cross with our littlest dog.  She is the pulliest of all the dogs, and she is pulling him down every sidewalk.  When this happens, we learned, we are to stop completely and wait for her to step back.  When she steps back, we are to continue walking.  In this way, she is to learn that no matter how excited we are, we will get there no faster if we are not together.

This is a tough lesson for all of us.

Sometimes our shoulders ache with the pulling after long walks.  She is tireless.  Sometimes we wish to not stop and want to let her pull to get where we are going faster.  But then, we are not together.  And our hands hurt.  The leash gets so tight with the pulling and the stopping and the more pulling.  By halfway through our walk, my Someone yells, “You are making my hand hurt so much with the leash because of your pulling!”

She looks up at him and waits for him to move again.  He unwraps the leash and rewraps it.  She sits.  He walks.  She walks.  They are a few steps in, and she is pulling.

“I’m afraid we are broken, now,” I told my Someone last week.

We have been bickering for weeks.  I am sorting out dark things.  My Someone is sorting out insecurities.  We keep missing each other.  One steps outside while the other starts talking.  One checks their phone and misses the other one looking.  One makes a small move to not refill the other’s glass of water when they are getting their own.  One asks a question while the other one is finishing their thought.  They are smalls tugs, but conscious ones, and ones we have grown lazy to remedy right away.

“We would not have jumped to use those bad words before,” I continue.  “Now, they are our first words.  They are losing their meaning.  We are jumping to fight first.”

“I am tired of the fighting,” my Someone says.

I realize my hands are clenched.  They are hurting with the pulling.

It is not so much that I believe she will stop the pulling soon.  She is a puppy.  It’s going to take years.  But lately I find that when I am becoming most angry, my jaw grinding and the top of my brain ready to spark, I look at my hand.  The leash is so tight.  To unravel it and rewrap it would be to unravel it again and rewrap it again at the next block.

I stop.  She stops.  She looks at me.  She steps back.  I furrow my brow at her.

We walk further.  I get angry.  I look down to yell at her.  And this: she is not pulling.  I have not taken the time to unwrap the tight leash from my hand.   I unwrap it.  My jaw relaxes.  The fuse at the top of my brain becomes confused and putters out.

“Good girl,” I say.  She wags her tail.  I take a deep breath.  It is so important, no matter how much pulling, to unwrap the tightness again and again.  If we don’t take the time to unravel the grip on our hands, we may not be ready to feel the small victory of two creatures finally stepping together.  Even if for only a block.

We clink glasses.  It’s martini hour.  My Someone takes a sip.  I become agitated.

“What?” my Someone asks.

“We used to cheers to something.  Every time.  We don’t cheers to anything, anymore,” I say.

He looks up, a little angry.  Then, he unravels and rewraps.  I wait and take a step back.

“To never cheersing to nothing again,” he says.

I unravel, too.

“To never cheersing to nothing again,” I say.

Snow Day: On Reruns.

It snowed in Grand Rapids, and we were the first to alter it with four feet and eight paws.

It was our second walk of the day with all mittens and scarves and a tennis ball for losing in the snow.

“I am so homesick,” I tell my Someone.

“For Pittsburgh?” he says.


“For the camper?”

“No.  For nowhere and everywhere I have been and haven’t been yet,” I figure.

“Ah,” says my Someone.  “It is the time for you to miss every toy you’ve ever owned.”

We walk to the place we romped with our two dogs that morning.

“Look,” says my Someone.  “Just think, all of these tracks are only ours from today.”

We unleash our dogs.  They run to make more.

“This is my favorite rerun,” I yell.  My Someone follows me following the dogs, to everywhere and nowhere we’ve already been and haven’t been, yet.

Puppy Love: On the Expectation of Hell.

My littlest dog is finally in love, and I am heartbroken by the consequences.  It took only a few hours for me to love her, but she is a floppy creature with a short attention span, and needed a few extra meals and treats and pets to turn her face from mindlessly following mush to puppy love.  And she is suffering because of it.

I am uncertain how to explain to her that being in love is not enough to keep us together for every waking and sleeping moment.  That being in love doesn’t change the closing of the bathroom door.  That being in love is no matter for separate beds and occasional hours without the sight and sound of me.

She is taking the news badly.  She is chewing on the back of the couch.  And she is in big trouble.

My fear of Hell is decreasing, and I have been worried.  It goes that I do not love what I can’t be afraid of losing.  Here, when my Someone leaves to pay for gas, I push down fear of a hold up inside the station.  When he is gone with the dogs in the woods, I am willing bears and coyotes to stay tucked in their dens.  But that love goes also like this–

“Where were you?” I ask.  I am crying.

“I was almost done and forgot the peanut butter,” my Someone says.

“But you didn’t answer my text!” I say.

“I didn’t feel it buzz in my pocket,” he says.

I am angry.  I am scared.

“I thought you were dead,” I say.

“I’m not dead,” he says. “I have peanut butter.”

This time is wasted time.  The wringing hands, the waiting.  And what I am afraid of losing, I lose for these moments.

“You are a bad dog!” I yell.

“You are a very bad dog!” my Someone yells.

We put our littlest dog’s face to the back of the couch.

“No!” I yell.

“NO!” my Someone yells.

We send her to lay down.  We have seen her for only a minute, and she is in big trouble.  The couch is not going to make it through this year.  She tucks herself down on her bed.  She waits.  My Someone and I discuss couches.  We throw up our hands exasperated.  She has never done this before! we say.  Why is this happening? we wonder.

It goes like this: that I have loved a God so long who would send me to Hell for the damage I’ve done to his couch.

“We have done a very bad thing,” I tell my Someone last night.  I am researching, I am learning, and what I have found is that my puppy is in love.  What I have found, is that the splinters of plywood and stuffing are the chew-chew-chewing of a puppy who does not know why her love is not enough to keep her with me.  And our anger at the chewing before our love-showing at the sight of her is making her chewing more chewy, and her fear of me more important than her love.

My anger has sent her to Puppy Hell for the crime of wanting to be close.  And she has been paying in shame for days.  She stays curled on her bed.  She does not look at me.  She waits.

“Good girl,” I say.

“Good dog,” my Someone says.

She looks up.  The smallest part of her tail wags.

I prepare treats to give her when we leave.  She will not chew the couch.  She is safe.  We will be back, and we will not be angry.  She is not afraid.

If I believe my creature is so smart, that she is complex with feelings that need assuaged and with boredom that needs attended, would my anger slow to look first at her and second to the broken couch?

I am becoming less afraid of Hell, because I am smart and complex and occasionally bored.  Because I am working first to believe that I am good, and God cannot believe I am these things if he overlooking me to first check the couch.  I cannot believe in God if I believe in Hell, and I think these days that I am preferring to let Hell go.  But if God’s couch is more important, I will let him/her/it sleep with the decision.  I can’t lose sleep over stuffing and few flames, anymore.