My condo complex is resurfacing its interior streets so, for the second day in a row, I had the choice of being held prisoner for several hours while the "slurry coat" dried or vacating the premises before 7:00 a.m. and staying gone. Yesterday I let myself be held hostage. Today I chose freedom.
I had an elaborate plan--a sort of "me morning." Breakfast out with my laptop, jazzercise, a pedicure, and then downtown to spring my dogs from boarding, which I elected not to do yesterday due to fearsome visions of eight paws and a set of sneakers tracking fresh asphalt into my condo and simultaneously incurring the wrath of the H.O.A board.
Things were going well as I took the last bites of my Starbucks veggie panini while emailing my attorney. Then the phone rang.
It was Stephen, the guy from the dog boarding place, telling me my dog Lola was completely uninterested in getting up this morning. Lola is old. She has a heart condition. She nearly died when I was out of town visiting my mom in August. But she rallied and had a great month at home with me before it was time to visit my mom again last week. I told Stephen I would meet him and Lola at the vet.
It so happens that the Starbucks I chose was the one in my old neighborhood--the suburb where I lived for twelve years with Mr. Ex. It was difficult backing out of my parking place at 8:15 in the morning on the busy street that leads to the Freeway. But after several cars zoomed by someone gave me a break, and I proceeded to the onramp, calculating which route would get me to the vet the fastest. It was a second or two after I merged into traffic that I realized the big fat Acura TL in front of me was none other than Mr. Ex.
There we were, Mr. Ex and I, crawling west in tandem while Lola was in yet another car heading for the vet. I thought about calling Mr. Ex. "Hey, I'm behind you right now," I might have said. "I'm really sad. Please talk to me because Lola is dying, and I'm on my way to her." I was thinking about making that call. I really was. Mr. Ex was always the dog guy at our house. The walks, the feedings, the runs to Petsmart. Mr. Ex and our daughters and I went to the dog rescue place together and adopted Lola and Layla one February morning five or six years back. Then the four of us drove back downtown to pick the dogs up after the rescue folks had groomed them for us. All six of us rode home together, the scent of fresh dog shampoo nearly inebriating us while we discussed names. Helena and Hermia? Bianca and Kate? This was what I was thinking as I crept through rush hour behind Mr. Ex. But my phone rang. Stephen again. Lola was dead.
I remembered then what had happened last month. I'd gotten the call that Lola was sick--very sick-- while I was at my mom's place. I sent Mr. Ex an email asking if he wanted to be there if she had to be put down before I flew home. No, he wrote back. I don't need to be there.
So I didn't call Mr. Ex. I called the man who loves me. He had said yes to my request last month. Of course he would be there if Lola had to be put down. But he didn't wait for that to happen. He went to visit her at the vet hospital. Hung out with her. I hung out with him this morning. Crawled into his big fluffy bed and cried.