I adore my apartment. It’s in a quiet, gated community that is relatively inexpensive. I have more than enough room for me and my furniture and my dog. I’ve got an amazing garden tub, big windows, nine foot ceilings and a comfortable patio facing the quiet of the woods. Honey even has a room of her own. It’s kind of just perfect for us.
It’s such a shame I have to leave it.
In pursuit of being responsible and the desire to not have to bust it wide open for student loans the rest of my natural life, I’m moving in with my mom now that she and her boyfriend have parted ways. The good news is that I’m NOT gonna shoot myself in the face. The bad news is that I’ve already loaded the gun juuuust in case I change my mind.
No, really, the good news is I have the entire bottom floor of the condo to myself and I can aggressively pay off debt/save money.
That’s what I keep telling myself.
Recognizing that I’m joining the growing ranks of college educated students with heavy debt not balanced high income jobs that ultimately have to move back home is not assuaging my sickness at the thought.
Mostly because I cannot stop focusing on what it means I will be losing. I can (mostly) reconcile those things I will lose temporarily; my freedom, my space, possibly my tenuous grip on my sanity.
But I just can’t quite come to grips with having to give up my dog.
Some of you aren’t dog or even animal people. So, you won’t be able to understand where I am coming from. And that’s fine. But my dog is one of my best friends. She never refuses my hugs because she is angry or makes me go brush my teeth in the morning before I cuddle with her. She lays across my feet in the winter time so that the warmth of her belly can heat my toes, which always seem to be freezing. She barks at strangers in our hallway because I spent our first weeks here jumping out of my skin at every noise until she started guarding the door. And pretty much every single day I have come home to her, wagging her tail and happy to see me.
Every single day for the last four years.
And now, I won’t.
|Guarding the Door|
I am lucky that I don’t have to give her up completely. That my aunt, who is an animal lover like her niece, has a big yard with other dogs to welcome Honey. The problem isthat the yard, much like everything else important in my life, is in Atlanta. And I, at least for the time being, won’t be.
If you have never had a dog, and/or have never been in a situation where you’ve lived isolated from everyone almost everyone you know and love, you don’t really get the type of bond that forms when you bring a sick puppy home from the pound that is about to be put down and all either of you have is each other. You just think I am a melodramatic idiot right now. I get it. Before I had a dog, I would have judged me too. But that was before spending enough time with her to recognize that when I am upset, she gets upset and sits right in front of me, blocking my way and dropping her left ear. Or that because she is a germophobe like her mother, she doesn’t care for treats I have left on the floor, preferring instead to catch them midair. You don’t know what it means to have someone who, when you are all alone, stands by your bed and waits for you to get comfortable and start to fall asleep before she lays down on her own bed to do the same.
|Waiting by the bed for me to fall asleep|
Don’t get me wrong, this damn dog drives me insane. She selectively listens to commands, she regularly tries to yank my arm out of the socket when she reaches the end of her leash, she jumps on up on complete strangers and she is not above peeing on my carpet when she is angry with me. But even with all of that, she is mine.
|Yall see this shit?|
Which is why it pains me to leave her.
I believe that maybe she is actually a little person in a furry costume, so I haven’t had the nerve to tell her that we will be separated. Instead, I’ve spent the last few weeks taking her for long walks, driving her around in the car like she loves, talking to her in plain English like she knows what the hell I am saying, running with her in the dog park, scratching her belly while we watch TV and giving her extra treats. I am pretty sure she knows something is up, despite my pretending otherwise. She’s been extra clingy and panicked when I leave home without her. She has shadowed me around more than usual, making sure that I have no intentions of leaving her side.
|Hair blowin’ in the wind|
|At the dog park|
|Watching Colbert ’cause she’s smart|
And I feel so guilty.
Which is why when I let her out her room last night, after the last piece of furniture and bag of trash had been cleared, and she ran around the room in a panic, I talked to her in my sweetest voice like nothing was different. And when she ran up to me, her little face tilted to one side the way that she does when she is confused, I tried to reassure her and distract her by raking my nails across the breadth of her head. She looked up at me, trusting, and it felt like my heart was going to break. She believed my reassurances. And I felt awful.
And we sat there, on my bare floor, with me determined not to weep over some walls that didn’t even belong to me, no matter what they represented. I scratched slowly behind my dog’s ears, the dog I would soon be giving up, and tried to pretend like the backs of my eyes weren’t burning with the effort of pretending this was all just another Wednesday. I looked around wistfully, knowing this was the “right” thing, the responsible, adult thing but not feeling placated in any way. Still, I felt loss.
I wish I could focus on the fact that this is a good thing, in theory. Instead I can’t stop thinking that this whole a situation is better in every way except the ones that really matter. I couldn’t help but feel sadness. And almost in the same breath self-criticalness; people do this every day. They lose their homes and their pets and so much more. At least I have a choice.
But still, as I talked to my dog and tried to tell her about where she was going and trying to keep an upbeat tone in my voice, I couldn’t help but tear up a little bit watching her wander around our place, confused about where all our things had gone, until eventually coming over to me, wiggling her way between my outstretched legs and hooking her chin over my thigh, looking up at me expectantly.