The sun is shining. The air has a hint of briskness.
The ash trees are a multitude of colors; purple, yellow, orange, red with a few stragglers still in the green of summer.
It is sandals and sweater weather.
I hear phantom dog tags and padding feet behind me everywhere.
I am pushing the stroller, hoping desperately that the children will be lolled to sleep. It has been one of those days. After two hours of climbing in and out of bed, drinks of water and trips to the bathroom I finally tell Ivory to put on a pair of shoes and climb into the stroller in an attempt to save what little is left of my sanity. Sylvan drifts off first humming to himself, and I realize Ivory is slumbering as well when the hand clutching her pink leopard finally relaxes.
I walk past the tent city that is rising up in front of our court house. The drum circle sneaks a little dance into my step and for the first time today I feel the dark cloud that has been hanging over my head lift a little.
I have been in a lousy mood.
I am angry.
And no, it is not because there are 14 million unemployed people in this country or because 49.9 million people lack health insurance. Sure, there always is an underlying current of frustration and disbelief about many facets of our society, but today in my pitifully selfish little world I am angry because of one dog.
The dog that has me hearing phantom dog tags and the padding of feet everywhere I go.
I picked up Ivory from school with Sylvan tied to my chest with the goal of walking to pick up our car and go and pay the water bill. We made it a few blocks from our house when I hear those clinking dog tags and there she is, Carrot, running after us. Just out of reach. I grudgingly turn around dragging Ivory . Walk to the house, wait for her appearance, put her back in the yard, grab a leash, just in case and try again. We make it a few blocks. I hear the tags again, and there she is. We turn around once again, put her back in the yard and make a third attempt to go and get the car.
This time we get nowhere. Ivory is screaming at me at the top of her lungs, hungry and obviously tired and not wanting to do this routine again. I give up on the car. I give up on paying the water bill.
Instead we begin our two hour nap time struggle. I pile the kids in the stroller in an attempt to outwit the mundane frustrations of motherhood.
And there, I hear them again: clinking dog tags, the patter of feet.
Each time I reach the edge of our neighborhood, she is beside me, and I make my way back to our house. Again and again until I finally reach the tunnel that passes under the train tracks without a canine stalker.
The kids fall asleep, I breath, slip into a coffee shop, order a cup of coffee and finally sit down.
My phone rings immediately. It is my husband, calling from the highway, headed home from work: “Animal control just called. Can you go get her? She is in the Providence Surgery Center parking lot.”
I want to scream. But instead I just whisper into the phone: “No. I will not go get her. I just got the kids to sleep. I am going to drink my cup of coffee.”
The dog has become our latest marital dispute.
I feel small and defeated. I have allowed one dog to ruin my day. I feel even more hopeless and helpless by my complete inability to move forward, which makes me even more unhappy. I feel petty, slightly (only slightly) unreasonable and very negative.
Adam has resolved to raise the fence by 18 inches and I, well, I am trying to not view myself as caged in with two smelly poop machines.