dog sleeping under quilt
The place you call the place if you call places places.

Django is lying at the foot of the bed, wrapped in the vintage quilt I bought on vacation. I think it’s called a Grandmother’s Flower Garden, though that seemed to be what they all were called. I’ve been lying awake, thinking about the sink we bought and how even if you’re lucky enough to get to custom-order your sink cabinet it can still end up being too narrow for the only sink shallow enough to fit back to front. And how even if we return this sink and find a place to custom-make a sink, there could well be another way in which it won’t fit quite right. This is why people hire kitchen designers.

Re-entry from Michigan was slightly softened tonight by running into friends on the dog walk and getting ourselves invited over for dinner. Django was still hopped up from her vacation, so she was exceptionally bossy. There are eight or nine border collies at the herding farm where she stays when we go away, so I imagine her the visiting omega, sullenly following orders from even the two-year-old who made her herding debut over the weekend, and dreaming of all the alpha moves she’ll use on the clueless neighbor dogs when she gets home.

When we picked her up yesterday, she ran in circles, ducking in to get petted but not able to stand being touched, so squirming off again. We were trying to talk to Shannon about how the week went and how her herding demos went, but Django kept circling and not-exactly-barking, more articulated whining that changes itself into a yawn and back. She’d circle and whine-yawn, then run partway to the car, doors standing open, and then run back and start again.

Finally I stamped my foot and said, “Just get in the car,” and it was like that’s all she’d been waiting for, though I’d never said it to her before. She raced down the long, winding drive and jumped into the driver’s seat, where she sat calmly until we finished talking, paid Shannon, hugged goodbye, gave her dogs a final pat, and set the food in the trunk and the dog bed in the back seat. Then she climbed into her bed and lay down.

I wonder what dogs think when we put them in the car, and then let them out in a different location. Do they think, “First I was there, and now I’m here,” or do they think, “Sitting, sitting, sniffing window, sitting,” or perhaps “I wonder what humans think when they see beautiful flowers and don’t pee on them?”

I need to get some sleep, but my mind won’t stop thinking about the sink. I finished my book yesterday and I don’t have another one within reach. The bookmark lies on my nightstand, homeless. It’s from a friend’s mom’s memorial service. The mom had volunteered at a library and loved books, so the family had laminated bookmarks made with her name and dates and the Irish blessing. The first date is “Born” and the second one is “Went home.” Born. Born into time. Died. Passed on. Went home. Born into eternity. All our words to assert different positions on the meaning of the first date and the second.

Our neighbor who made us dinner was talking about how lately she’s begun longing for the town where she grew up. She left when she was 11 and has lived many other places since, but it’s the place she thinks of as home. She wonders if it’s the physical place, which has almost none of the features she looks for in a place to live (except great weather), or the people, none of whom she would necessarily want to live next door to, or something else that makes it feel in her mind like home. She hasn’t even visited, and doesn’t have plans to.

I get the feeling she’s afraid to go back, because she doesn’t want to be disappointed. It’s like a reverse kind of faith, where you preserve your sense of home by avoiding direct contact. Unless of course you think of faith in the opposite way, in which case your sense of home is all the contact you need.

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  1. Wow, thank you for articulating that so beautifully for me. And, you’re right, of course. That many years makes for some awfully high expectations. I guess that makes it lucky that I actually have a real home here (and the coats to go with it).

  2. Wow! As I read about your return I wished my Uncle Bill was still aliveand able to read your stories. Your descriptions just must make the reader want more to read! My Uncle Bill was a prolific writer during his lifetime, whether it be letters to his mother, to his wife, or colums to people living in LaPeer(sp?) Mich. Thanks for sharing your story! Mike

  3. Thank you, Mike. It’s so nice to connect, kinda like being across the alley again! Wish I had known your Uncle Bill. If he was anything like your dad, he was probably one of the best people around.

  4. Always making me think so hard! Coats. Things that make you feel warm and fuzzy. Like finding friends on the sidewalk who want to come over for dinner even when your kitchen is a big mess. And also, just coats. Because it’s frigging cold here.

  5. Mary Terese,

    You would have love Uncle Bill! I loved hearing my dad tell stories about plating tennis with your dad, and listening to my mom talk about getting together with your mom.
    I think the thing I love best about my dad is that he is just a good person. Imperfect, striving to improve, and loving, above all else. He said he was made better through his friendship with your folks. What a gift your mom and dad had to give!

  6. There’s something about your writing that touches my heart deeply. As I read, time seems to stop … and the thought strikes me that something magical is happening here.

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