Sunday afternoon it was 71 degrees and sunny so Ben and I decided to pack up the border collie and take him for a much needed walk at the park. The cherry blossoms had browned but the dogwoods were in full bloom as were the pink buds. The sweet gums drooped with their broccoli-looking pollen as did the willow oaks with their brown stringy type that gathers and blows like tumbleweed across sidewalks. It got caught in Desmond’s fur and coated our shoes and caused our sinuses to swell and heave. But the day was worth the discomfort. It was worth the watery eyes and itchy skin. The park was overrun. Dogs, humans, and geese reigned. Children threw bread crumbs and cheerios into the pond, a few men stood with fishing poles, casting above the heads of passersby, catching nothing. I wondered why they’d bother trying to fish in a two foot pond, why they didn’t try the creek instead. The hill had thick blotches of sunbathers and Frisbee throwers. A yorkie chased a ball that was bigger than him. The smell of suntan lotion and damp grass ruled the air. Children sped by on scooters, bikes, wagons, roller blades, and skateboards. There was even a food cart with hotdogs, cotton candy, popcorn, and snow cones. Everywhere we were surrounded by blue-lipped glee. We walked until our bodies grew sore, until even Desmond slowed. He dodged children, sniffed some dogs, ignored others. When he was close to exhausted from the walk and the blaring sun on his black fur, he met a black lab puppy and nudged her with his nose. She refused to walk. She had found her spot by the water fountain.
I’m reminded of the day a few weeks ago when I didn’t want to share what I had come to feel was my space. In my Abbey-esque mindset, I’d learned to love the silence of cold, rainy days there, alone, roaming where I would without care of intruding or being watched. It was time I needed to settle back into Charlotte -to face the past, to come to terms with the future and the obstacles ahead. As I sat on that hillside, resting with my husband and my dog, I felt hope in our synchronous breaths.