Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Dog Abroad

As you know, I enjoy watching the sky over Dog Park. On Saturday, there were actually a few clouds in the east. Tinted a deep azure, they looked like cotton balls dipped in a child's finger painting. But there was another quality to the sky, perhaps created by dust in the air, the dissipating heat, or the angle of the just setting sun. It had a burnished look that reminded me of old paintings your might see in museums. I kicked myself for not having brought my camera. 

My next thought was of the first time I traveled abroad. I was twenty and spending half the summer in London. One day, I was on my way to the National Gallery for a school assignment. I was walking along Trafalgar Square, a broad, flat concrete plain smothered with pigeons, tourists, and Londoners eating sack lunches. The sky was overcast. A young, thin African man asked me to sign a petition against apartheid. The streets roared with red buses and small cars. Then the bells of St. Martin in the Fields church chimed, and I had this exact thought: No one in the entire world knows where I am. It was like a moment in a Virginia Woolf novel. I'll never forget the thrill of being so completely alone in a crowded, far away place. 

Of course, it's almost impossible to have that feeling anymore in age of Twitter, cell phones, and GPS. And also, nearly 25 years later, anyone who knows me knows exactly where I am at the end of the day—chaperoning my girls at Dog Park. But as I watched Saturday's sky fade from blue to black, I was overcome with a terrible yearning to be in another time and place, to be released from the heat and the dust of Dog Park, to find myself, if only for a moment, once again strolling the streets of London on my way to the Underground, a sweater slung around my neck, and my passport in my pocket.

In the '90s, my boyfriend-then-husband and I went to Europe pretty regularly. The trips were often ambitious; I'd take leave of absence from work in order to live in Rome for a month or visit the south of France or stay with his friends in Berlin or drive to the islands off the coast of Croatia. Then, after we adopted Roma, I lost my taste for the summertime meanderings. After a week abroad, all the charm of dusty ruins, untranslated voices, and the wah-wah of police sirens was simply lost on me. I missed my dog and the comfort of our day-to-day routine, the meditative quality of our walks. Shortly after Roma showed up, we had to stop traveling anyway. Instead we spent summers trying to find rental houses that would accept pets in the increasingly provincial towns where my husband managed to work teaching Latin. I did not miss the expense and chaos of foreign travel. My ex said nothing, but I know that he was appalled by my preference for Roma the dog over Roma the Eternal City. Years later my passport quietly expires in a drawer while our travels take us only as far as Dog Park every night. See you there. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please write a comment here or e-mail me directly at busyzia@gmail.com. Thanks!