My year has been a difficult one, from that morning we were hit by the car to the evening five nights later when I learned my grandfather had passed away. Each time I sat at the computer to write I found only anger and sadness dancing from my fingertips and I tried to remember what my grandmother often told me, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."
So I stayed away, discontent with my walks with Duncan, dwelling not on the peace the rhythm of our footfalls brought, but on the cold and isolation of winter, the lonely bitterness of the wind against my face, the ache in my back and chest. I wanted only to rush through those walks and return home to make a quick dinner and fall asleep before I could think more about the unhappy hand I'd been dealt in 2011.
And then this morning I awoke to discover I had no blog. It was gone. Completely and utterly. The words, "This blog has been removed" sat on my screen like roadkill on the street, unmoving and tragic, heavy and frightening both to look at and to look away from. Although I had ignored this outpost on the internet I had never been able to ignore the possibility and promise of returning there when the time was right. This morning that, too, seemed to have been taken from me.
Each walk with Duncan is done with wide eyes, open ears, my skin prickling with the sensations of weather and the deep concentration of remaining open and unfocused with every step we take. But this morning after we ambled down the hall together and I prepared his breakfast, my heart was broken with the thought that all those walks had somehow been lost and the thought of starting anew was overwhelming and more than I could consider. Google had closed my account, erased my email and negated four years of travel with my best friend. Chalk up another bitter win for 2011.
It was only at the end of the day when the blog had magically been restored and an immense sense of relief settled over me that I knew tonight was the night I'd come back, that Duncan would lead me to the comfort I've been seeking but ignoring.
The sky on the drive home was incredible, a shade of washed-out forgotten blue with the fading streaks of clouds so golden they burned white, twisting and dissipating above the mountains. I could not navigate the streets fast enough or find my way home quick enough. The butterflies fluttered in my belly and I could almost feel the familiar weight of Dunc's leash in my hand and the gentle tug of him guiding me through the night. I watched the fading contrails above the mountains change slowly from single, humble scratched lines into billowing plumes that elongated and thinned, smudged and reformed into new shapes entirely. One, bright with pink and orange-dazzled edges, twisted itself into a question mark that hung miles large and I felt all those questions I've been grappling with these past weeks bubble up to dance on and confuse my surface. It stayed there long after I got home, turning, eventually into a child's drawing of a wave, jagged and high-peaked with deep valleys and no place to rest. It stayed there long after the blue of the sky forgot how to be blue and turned to something else, after I changed into a pair of jeans and the soft green and gray short-sleeved flannel shirt of Grandpa's that mom gave me, donned my new walking shoes and let Duncan lead me down the stairs, across the street and to the tall hill above the lake where we could watch the last of the light leave the sky.
And while we sat there on the cement bench, Duncan somehow content to rest his shoulder against my leg while the warm breeze danced in the long hair around his ears, that single treacherous wave of a cloud flattened out into the nearly straight line of a calm and serene sea with Jupiter glowing just below it but still above the black line of the mountains. We sat a long time in the joyous and deserved warmth of this February evening, content for the first time in weeks and happy to have something good to say at last, and a place in which to say it.