Since I moved to Houston, I’ve spent alot of time alone. I go out to eat alone, I shop alone, I go to the movies alone, I go for walks alone. Sometimes I get in my car and just drive the vast expanse of the city. Sometimes music blaring from the speakers. Sometimes silent.
It’s ironic of course being that I’ve never been the type to ever be alone. My personality demands that people be drawn to me. It’s inevitable. Wherever I am, usually there so are people.
But not now.
The past (alomst) 2 years have certainly been lonely ones.
When I interviewed for my part time job, my future manager posed the question as to whether I’d been burnt out working 5 days a week full time and 4 days a week part time. It’s the only time I remember stuttering over an answer, as I’m generally emensely impressive in interviews.
I remember chastising myself on the inside, telling myself I’d never forgive me if I cried in a goddamn job interview.
I opened my mouth. Closed it. Opened it again to try and somehow make my answer sound less pitiful. Closed again. I turned my head to compose myself.
“It wouldnt be an issue. All through college I worked a job or sometimes 2, took between 7 and 9 classes each semester and still participated in various school activities. Time management is key and that is one of my strengths. That was certainly more stressful than this. This is what I do.”
Sometimes she looks up at me and whimpers. As of late I’ve started to notice that she does it mainly when I’m feeling lonely. She’ll come and nuzzle the backs of my knees. She’ll lay across my feet. She’ll curl up in a tight ball next to me, her head craddled in my lap. If I scratch slowly behind her right ear, she’ll fall fast asleep. Sometimes we nap on the couch like 2 old ladies.
She never moves.
Even if she wakes up first, she’s always still right up under me when I stir. She’ll poke her head up. Cock her head to the side. She’ll gaze at me curiously, waiting for the moment my feet hit the floor before she makes any moves. Sometimes she lets me sleep. Sometimes she shakes me with her paw until I get up and feed her or let her out. Sometimes she just watches me or wiggles in closer to me when I shiver from the cold (I’m always cold).
It’s funny because, in alot of ways, we have the same temperment. Sometimes we just don’t feel like playing, and other times we live for the attention we get from our captive audience. Neither of us really knows how to be alone.
But being alone has kinda kept us from knowing how to be with people.
Honey was horribly sick when I adopted her. Had I brought her in to the vet, the said, even a week later, she would have died. When I got to the pound, she was in a cage by herself. Curled up in a little ball in the back, far away from the door. Her back was turned to the walkway. She never barked. Up until that point, I’d decided on a little jack russell terrier with tons of energy that I’d seen upfront. Something told me, for whatever reason, to just walk towards the cages in the back of the room.
And there she was.
She didn’t make a sound as they were cleaning her up, getting her ready to come home with me. When the amanager put her in my arms, wrapped up in a wet towel, fur still damp from her recent bath, I remember her shivering. She gave me this look that I took to mean she trusted me despite how unkind her previous owners had been to her. I didn’t take it lightly. I zipped her up inside my hoodie, wet fur and all. I talked to her as I walked to the car, told her that we’d get her all better, that she’d grow up big and strong and we’d hang out and play and run and climb things and roll around outside. I remember she sneezed. And then she wiggled her little tiny self as best she could into the space between my breasts. She closed her eyes and slept.
I took a picture of her that day, curled up on the passenger seat that, to this day, she refuses to relinquish to anyone else if she’s in the car. She was so tiny. So sick. And yet still so sweet and kind natured.
Today Honey is much bigger, but she’s still the same dog. She has more energy because she’s not sick anymore and I can barely keep up with the little bit of energy that working 2 jobs doesn’t suck outta me. She’s at least 3 feet longer, can put her front paws on my shoulders when she stands on her hindlegs. But she still hardly ever barks. She’s still sweet. She still sleeps curled in a tight ball.
Now honey sleeps at my head. Every once in awhile at night when I’m tossing and turning, I wake up to find her sitting next to the bed and watching me intently. I’ll pat her head. She waits until I’m still again and my eyes are closed and then she lays down. Always. When I put my feet on the floor in the morning, she’s always right there by my side, eagerly waiting for us to start our day.
She gives me hope that one day I can learn how not to be alone. That I can learn to strike the balance between flourishing in the neccessary alone times, and seeking to be where the people are. She makes me think that I can grow that way. That I can change, evolve, adapt.