Saturday, July 18, 2009

Reunion

I came to Pocatello--my first trip home in the summer months in five years-- for my twenty-year high school reunion, traveling across the windy and dust-blown Wyoming landscape with Ruth as my trusty navigator and Duncan as our loyal, panting backseat passenger, listening to 80’s tunes as we went. I have anticipated and planned last night for a very long time and although I’ve spent months exercising and eating well, doing my best to look and feel good, nothing could have prepared me for the quiet surprise of the evening. Even though Duncan was home with my mother, far away from Pocatello’s infamous Green T cowboy bar, he was very much with me.

I got out of Pocatello as quickly as I could manage. It is not a bad place, just not the kind of place that offers the sort of opportunities I’d imagined for myself. And although a part of me would love nothing more than to move back home to this quietly growing valley, I probably never will. It’s a safe place, a nice place to raise children, but between the dominant religious sect and political party I can’t really imagine making an entirely satisfying life for myself here, which is sometimes a very painful thing to realize, missing my family and friends as I do, wanting to lean on them when times are difficult, being unable to reach out for their embrace as often as I’d like. I have felt detached from home since that very first Christmas back from college when I realized that life and people move on with or without you, sometimes even in spite of you. The people I grew up with and have known since I was a very young child have become more than a bit of a mystery to me and there have been times when I have felt as though I don’t know my way around, don’t recognize a single face, have never lived here at all.

And then last night I stepped into my past the moment I stepped through the doors of that bar, coming face to face with all those people who I was sure had forgotten me, people I had somehow convinced myself flipped through the pages of the year book and paused on my photo only to think, “Who the hell is that?” It was like a waking dream and each step forward brought me into contact with people I was shocked to see and who were just as shocked to see me. As I moved through the crowd, stopping every few feet to speak with people, to hug old friends, to flirt and reminisce, the strangest, most unexpected thing kept popping up: people seemed to know Duncan just as well as they knew me--people I hadn’t seen or spoken with in ten and twenty years.

“I am so glad you’re here,” they said. “I’ve looked for you for years, and then suddenly I found your blog. I read about you and Duncan all the time! Did you bring him with you? Is he here in Pocatello?” I didn’t know how to react. The first time I was flattered but by the fifth or sixth time I started to feel overwhelmed. Not only did people remember me––had even searched for me, the quiet, shy drama geek––but they knew intimate details about my life, returned to this small, safe place on the internet to learn more and more about me, and had grown to love my very best friend in the whole world in ways I could not have foreseen.

Even though Duncan did not walk with me last night he was somehow still there, connecting me to my past and present in a startling and powerful way. And after it was over (my friends and I actually closed Pocatello’s premier cowboy bar, the place I’d been most terrified to set foot in!), after I’d driven home, overwhelmed and anxious for today’s events, Duncan was waiting for me, joyous and beautiful, sincere and loyal to his core.

I feel like the luckiest person in the world, for having a home to return to, for the people who remember me and enjoy spending time with me, for my incredible family and for the dog who loves me for everything I am and in spite of what I am not. I wish--almost desperately-- there was some way to tell him this, to make him understand how much he is loved, how firmly he has planted me in the world, how many words have been written about him, by myself and others, how greatly he is loved.


Perhaps I will take him for a walk and hope the sunshine and birdsong, the green on the hills and in the grass will whisper these things to him and bring as much joy to his heart as he has brought to mine.

9 comments:

Ruth said...

That brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful tribute to such a gorgeous dog. It is the size of your heart that has allowed Duncan to touch not only you but your many readers as well. Thanks to you both.

Ruby's Mum said...

This was so moving. Makes me think I could maybe do a reunion after all.

KBL 2 ORD 2 SAN 2 LUV said...

I am sitting here sobbing, so in love with this post, and the fact that it captured exactly what I feel about my dogs. I read your post aloud to my husband and to Milo, and began sobbing again. Nothing has ever brought me to my knees like the love, and the love lost, of my dogs. In this small, intimate world of the Internet, it feels so good to find a kindred spirit who understands this and loves and appreciates his dog as much as I do.

Duncan, you are majestic. I am so happy that you have Curt as your papa. You and all of your fellow Goldens are perfection in every sense of the word. The only thing about loving you is that you don't leave us instructions on how to get on without you once you have decided to leave our earth. May you have many, many healthy happy years.

Curt, I'm so glad your reunion went so well. Here's to Pocatello! The great thing now is that no matter where you are in this world, if your dog is with you, then you're home.

Lori said...

If it weren't for Duncan... and my boys... we'd never have met, either. Dogs unite kindred spirits.

caboval said...

I too am crying! What a beautiful post Curt!! Im so happy for how things turned out!!! I am always uplifted when I read your blog and isnt it wonderful way for your old friends to keep up with you? Love Always, Valerie and the Boo Bears

Cheryl said...

Your visit home was a wonderful time.I'm always glad to see my boys.Thank you Ruth for your navigational abilities (Curt never stops to pee or eat). Thanks for your help with Kev. and safe journey to you. XO mom

Greg said...

Oh, this is so cool. He is a wonderful dog, that's for sure, but Ruth's right about the size of your heart, my friend. We love WWD for that as much as for insight into (y)our furry friend. I'm glad to hear you had such a lovely reunion!

CJ/Rick said...

That's funny because traveling back through Idaho a few years ago I came to Pocatello and thought to myself that I'd like to live here.
I've never gone to a reunion so good for you that you did.
Great pic of Duncan.

Sue said...

Dear Curt, I've left a little award for you on my blog, stop by when you get a chance.