Searching for Your “People”

searching, people, familyLast night I went to bed early to finish a good book, leaving Henry (the dog) and the other man of the house watching TV in the family room. Suddenly I heard Henry bark. It wasn’t his “I have to go out bark,” or “Where’s my dinner bark,” but his “Help! I can’t find you, Where are you?” bark.

I laughed and called for him, and he came bouncing to me happily, tail wagging as if I’d been lost and finally found.

His reaction reminded me of how important we are to each other – “we” meaning our family members, our good friends, our “people.”

dog, traveling, golden retrieverAlmost two years ago Henry, my man, and I moved cross country, driving in our SUV over 8 hours a day, Henry sprawled out in the back seat happier than a clam in mud. After all, he had us, “his people,” alone in a small moving box for hours at a time. For once, he always knew where we were. He’d lift his head up from the little cave we’d built him with blankets, his water bowl, and a ball, and he’d smile so wide I realized that he’d be happy if we all lived in the car forever.

But within 6 days we arrived at Truckee, our last stop before reaching the S.F. bay area. Reservations had been made at the ‘dogs allowed’ hotel, and we were relieved to find our room on the first floor near the exit door and a good walking path.

Henry sniffed at his new spot for the night, a bit anxious that it smelled differently than the night before. My man took several trips to carry luggage and laptop and dog essentials from the car to the room, and then we unpacked the necessities, as had become our routine.

Until we heard an anxious bark outside our room from far away, and then another, and another.

“It is a dog-friendly hotel,” we both remarked to each other, smiling and looking for Henry’s perked ears and curious eyes.

But Henry was not there. He was gone! We searched the corners of the room, the bathroom, the closet.

The outside barks became more insistent. “Where are you?” the bark said. “Where are you?”

“Oh my God!”  I exclaimed. “That’s Henry’s bark!”

We yanked open our hotel door.  Way down the lengthy hotel hallway, we saw a yellow blur. Our 9-year-old golden was running up and down the long corridor, barking past each door, shouting “Where are you?”

“Henry, here!” I shouted. He flew toward us like a happy puppy, like a child who’s momentarily lost a parent, like a person who has been reunited with his loved ones.

We had a sweet reunion with hugs and licks and a tail wagging so hard it hit the other side of the hallway, causing a couple of doors to open with inquisitive expressions from the rooms’ residents.

“Our dog was lost in the hallway,” we explained.

“Ah,” the dog owners responded. “Now he’s found his people.”


Happiness is time spent with some of my "people."




What I Didn’t Do on My Summer Vacation

What did you NOT do this year on your summer vacation?

Mid-August this year, I reflected on last year at the same time. Even more, I focused on what I wasn’t doing this year.  I did not drive cross country, steering away from a settled 10-year-home in Boston to a bayside town on the other side of the country. No desperate packing of ‘must haves’ after the even more difficult job of getting rid of so many items – furniture, rugs, books, antiques, hard-object memories that I simply didn’t have room to keep in our downsized near future.

Not wanting to release negative energy, I learned a year ago how to say goodbye with a smile: goodbye to the stiff old chair my father’s sister bought in the1950s; goodbye to the piles of notebooks that journaled my life for the past 15 years; goodbye to the rug that son Sean stained when he dropped the bowl of blueberry buckle; goodbye to the crib that Sophie, our first granddaughter, climbed out of when she was 10 months old; goodbye to the double bed with cherry headboard that once gave sleepy shelter to my 80-year-old mother and 16-year-old niece, together, during a stormy Thanksgiving night. Mom claimed that Stephanie kicked her for 8 long hours; Stephanie moaned that her Nanny snored louder than the wind.

But memories stay with us, even if the objects don’t. So what I didn’t do on August 8 this year, was push the essentials into our 1 car – essentials like 2 suitcases, 1 work computer, and 1 large golden retriever with water bowl and blankie, and drive with my 1 essential husband out of the town we’d called home for 10 incredible years.

The town didn’t want to give us up. We’d understood that scary fact last August as roadblock after roadblock – literal and figurative – appeared. Organizations that promised to collect our valued goods – mattresses, headboards, tables and chairs – would call 15 minutes before pick up and say, ‘never mind.’ Friends who promised to take care of cherished plants changed their minds minutes before taking them home, crying “but what if Benji dies in my care – you’ll never forgive me.” Our one essential car broke down a week before takeoff, some rare car part gave out that perhaps my husband understood but I never did.

And then, on the day we were to depart, the car wouldn’t start. At all. New battery dead. In the driveway at 7:15 on a hot humid summer morning, where all was packed, dog settled in back seat, exhales allowed, the car said NO.

We did, somehow, coax it to begin again, but then, driving down Monument Street, the curving road lined with oaks and pine and cherry, stone walls and big solid brick houses, a behemoth streaked across the road, huge and feathered, looking
like a monster from another world. Husband hit the brake hard, and our getaway car shuttered to a stop. The monster stopped too and turned to stare us down. A wild turkey, with dark bottomless eyes that seemed to say, “I dare you leave
this place.”

Husband, never one for hyperbole or mysticism, whispered, “do you think it’s going to let us go?”

“The turkey?” I whispered back.

 “No, the town,” he said louder as he tapped the accelerator. The car lurched forward, our released sighs helping it along, and we finally, finally, drove on toward our future to the other side.