My apartment in Indiana, late March 2001. Books are stacked on shelves, on each other, on the floor. Storypeople adorn the walls. I sit on my purple chenille couch, the calypso flower print comforter from my bed across my lap. Next to me, curled up with his head on my lap, is my new companion, Traveler. I traveled to Tennessee to pick him up; his previous experiences are unknown to me, but he seems to realize he has found his forever home. He has lived with me for nine days. His fur is golden red; he wears a red collar and a green bandana. The only light is from the television. We are tucked into the couch, cuddled up, sharing the comforter watching Natalie Portman have a baby, fall in love, run away from love, run back to it in Where the Heart Is. Traveler's eyes are usually closed. He must have learned these lessons already.
Rich, cold chocolate ice cream. What more could a girl want. My memory chooses to believe it was Haagen Daz right from the carton.
A candle burns and the slight scent of sandlewood fills the air. I bend down to kiss Traveler's nose and smell his doggy breath that still has the faint odor of his dinner.
A driver revs a car engine and peels out at the stop sign. The refrigerator hums. The heater kicks on. Traveler sighs, yawns, sighs again. Drama abounds through the language, words, feelings that sound through the television speakers. Toward the end of the movie, I hear my own breath as tears fall and I cry.
Trav's soft fur as I stroke his head with my fingertips. The cold ice cream as I indulge. The soft cotton of my orange and red striped pajama pants. As I watch the last few moments of the movie, my heart seems to pause for a moment. Will I ever find this love? Even crappy, over-dramatized movie kind of love. Will anyone ever look at me and want to stop the world just to be with me? Will I always be alone? I begin to cry. Traveler moves his head to my hand and I feel the warmth of his breath. My tears stop. I feel my heart begin to beat again. I have enough. I am enough. I hear my own voice say out loud, "If it is just you and me Traveler, it will be okay."
It is only when you let go of controlling the dream that you can be quiet enough to see it when it crosses your path. (Three weeks later my husband and I went on our first date.)
This post is dedicated to my first golden child Traveler. A year ago today, Jon and I had to let Trav go. I miss him but know I am blessed that he gave me such gifts.