I bend down and attach the leash to her halter. Her whole body wags in anticipation and she looks up at me with chocolate eyes, her fluffy ears cocked.
Unlatch the gate and we’re off. Where will we go?
This is not a charming neighborhood. These are small, mid-century, single level homes. You are more likely to come across a chain link fence than a picket fence. There are no neatly manicured lawns. What you’ll find is xeriscape out of necessity (renters don’t mow) and funky steel sculptures that someone made in their backyard shed or got at the swap meet.
I guess there’s a certain charm in that.
At the stop sign I take in our options. There’s that lady up ahead with the dingo-looking dog who lunges. What do you think girl? She stands on short legs low to the ground but she’s not afraid of dingos. Just garbage trucks and tall men with dark hair. (We all have our baggage.)
There’s the street I always avoided when I walked our other dog. He’s about 50 lbs and full of nervous energy. When we’d walk past a house with a dog barking, he’d try to lunge and I felt out of control. My husband walks him now. I’m just not good with that kind of energy. It’s too much like my own.
Walking with this little girl is different. A chain link fence holding back a pack of pit bulls? Just walk on by. Those two basset hounds who you can hear howling long after we’ve passed? Meh. The old lady and her dog with the matching white hair (he barks, she yells)? Unfazed.
Fearlessness sets us free, at least out here.
Fear can own me. Fear that I will never be as skinny as I think I should be. Fear that thinking that way makes me shallow and weak. Fear that age makes me unattractive because what I really want is to be that woman who ages “gracefully” and looks more beautiful at 65 than she did at 35. Fear that I won’t make it another 20 years to 65 because the world is f*cked and the sky will crash down on my head. Fear that I’m raising tiny sociopaths who can’t even master the basic character trait of sharing. Fear that I have no business raising children at all.
We are owned by what we think about and by what consumes us as we try to fall asleep at night. We are owned by what we allow to influence us (faith, technology, the consumer machine). We are owned by our beliefs, our passions, our body’s ability or inability to heal itself and by our relationships. We are all owned by something.
What owns you?
Right now this pup and I own each other, tethered together by a thin polyester cord, a synchronous cadence and a tenuous fearlessness.