Monday, November 12, 2012

A day in the life

RK and I spend most of all day, every day, together, with Stella.  We work at home and we work together.  And even with this, we still chose to spend Saturdays and Sundays together.  In fact, even though when you work for yourself and work from home, the days can tend to blend, the weekend still feels like a deserved weekend.

So, on this past Sunday, RK and Stella and I got up and headed for the beach, one of our favorite Sunday dog trips.  These morning trips to the beach where RK & I walk forever, listening to the ocean, clearing our heads or coming up with the next best thing,  I still get the most pleasure from thinking of a trip to the beach as 'dog trips', a place where Stella is totally free, lets the wind run thru her hair and the ocean up her nose and doesn't stop smiling.  It makes the trip all that more fun, we're doing something super awesome for Stella and we get to enjoy her loving it.  She's the best dog ever, so we try to give back.  Yup, Stella, our dog.

Which isn't the point...

The point is that this morning, as we were headed out on this warm fuzzy beach trip, we passed an ambulance and saw our neighbor lady in the back, with her husband standing at the door, listening to the EMT.  We got about half way up the block and it occurred to us that we should turn around and see if we could help this neighbor man of ours.

This neighbor man of ours, whose name we don't yet know.

We've seen this man and his wife, who are in their 70's, about once a week over the last two years, usually while we're sitting out on the front porch of our apartment building.  Most times, we're sitting with any number of our other neighbors now good friends, who live in our building.  One frienbor (the friend-neighbor combo I just made up) has a tiny dog named Dallas.  Her dog and our Stella are these really neat dog 'friends'.  We all sit on the stoop, when the weather's nice, and drink our coffee and watch our dogs.  This neighbor man and his wife, would often pass in front of our building always on their way to either church or a meal and for a very brief moment notice the dogs and smile, maybe make a comment.  It went on that way for about six months.  One nice, sunny morning, the moment stayed a little longer and an old radio show called "Stella Dallas" was brought up.  I'd never heard of it, none of us had, but it couldn't be cuter that our dogs inspired our neighbor to finally start a conversation.  Months after that, his wife, our neighbor lady, who was also a bowler on the weekends, started pulling out dog treats every time we saw them.  This couple does not own a dog themselves, but she took it upon herself to pick up very special dog treats from the local pet store, keep them in a baggie, inside a tin, for sheer freshness.  Stella & Dallas couldn't contain themselves when this couple came around the corner heading to one of their two destinations:  Oh, how the doggie treats flowed!

Funny thing is, we never once exchanged names.  This is very unlike me:  I ask the name of the guy who bags the groceries, or the cab driver, or the guy at the coffee cart.  And yet, not once did it come up.

A few months ago, our neighbors were passing the porch just as we were coming out the door.  We called our hello's, Stella ran up to them with mad joy, and I mumbled something to the effect, 'you know stella!'  But, the strange thing was, our neighbor lady didn't seem to know Stella.  She stepped back, sort of wobbly, and was amused by the fact that Stella was so excited to see them.  Almost like she was surprised to see a dog at all.  I looked up at our neighbor man and he said very, very softly, 'She's had a stroke' and in an instant it was clear.  She wasn't herself at all, so how was she to know who we were?  We stood just for a moment more and smiled at one another.  Things had clearly changed.  They walked on in the direction headed to one of their two habitual purposes.

Most recently, they were walking past our porch, we stopped and talked and our neighbor lady really seemed like her old self again.  She seemed to recognize me, and she definitely recognized Stella this time.  I came home and told RK I thought it was all looking up for our Stella Dallas neighbors.  But, as you know, if you started this at the beginning, that isn't exactly how it seems to be going.

This morning, when we passed our neighbor man, standing at the door to the back of the ambulance with the medic, and we briefly glanced our neighbor lady on a gurney and it occurred to us to turn around to help, I couldn't stop thinking about how much time they've spent together; the things they've gone through together; the places they've been to together.

We missed our chance at helping, by the time we rounded the corner, the ambulance was closing it's doors and our neighbor man was nowhere to be seen.  We headed out on our morning, thinking and talking and absorbing the weight of life.  We spent a gorgeous morning at the beach, ran Stella until she was happily exhausted and then headed home so Ryan could go bike riding before the wind picked up.

That same afternoon, when RK called me, laying on a gurney, from the back of an ambulance and told me to meet him at General Hospital, I thought of our neighbors again.  Then, I thought of how much time RK and I spend together, how much we've been through together and how many places we've yet to go to, together.

And how it can all change in an instant.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Tuesday is for voting...

Thanks for doing so...