thought

Bolt: on the fragility and beauty of life

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Tom brought Bolt home after a particularly hot summer spent down in Tennessee with a teenage love. That same month for me had been filled with lots of slurpees and stolen kisses from my first boyfriend. He had a mane of brown curls, the ends kissed with sun and beach and sand.

Tom and Glenna had found a dog in the woods, on the site where they were staying. The neighborhood kids had been feeding him potato chips and table scraps. A breakup was looming for me as summer came to a close; he was moving away to school, and I was patiently waiting to get my license. Tom called and asked if he could bring a puppy home, and would that be okay? He’s a really pretty dog. He’s good with kids, and I’ve been taking care of him… 

Tom returned late at night, and I awoke the next morning to a white puppy tied to the front door sitting on newspaper crying. I have never felt that close to Bolt. I’ve always found his incessant shedding, barking, and pleas for a walk to be supremely irksome. Yet things have a funny way of wiggling into our hearts. I’ve grown used to pulling the screen door and the front door in a some what complicated maneuver to ensure that he doesn’t squirm out between my legs. I expect him to be sitting in the crook of our stairs, sleeping with his head resting on top of his paws. I am accustomed but still infuriated every morning that I visit my parents, and I wake to the sound of his screeching howl at anything that blows across our front yard in his view — whether that be a person walking, a leaf, or a squirrel. I will miss how every time, without fail, when I would bend down to pet our other dog, George, Bolt would push his way between us, earnestly moving his head back and forth wherever my hand went, trying desperately to steal a good ear scratch or two.  

And my heart aches for my dad. Anywhere my dad was, Bolt was there: sitting at his feet. 

I wasn’t physically there when it happened, but my mom texted me saying something weird was happening. Bolt didn’t eat his food that morning, and George had run over and eaten all of it. Bolt didn’t fight. The same thing would happen the next day accompanied by other symptoms, and in what seems like a matter of hours, suddenly Bolt’s prognosis went from uncertain to dire. They put Bolt down this morning. 

It always seems that the best news is accompanied in equal measure with heart break. Perhaps this is just the tide of life, there will always be a give and take, a break and a mend, a push and a pull. Life really does move quickly, and time has a way of slipping by, oftentimes unaccounted for. It’s unreal that it’s almost been seven months since I graduated. This is the sixth month Keith and I have owned Daisy. Between my last blog post and now, my life has suddenly and swiftly changed in ways that would have been impossible to predict. And I’m learning that’s the beauty of life. Those seemingly innocuous, meaningless routines that we do suddenly become our days, our weeks, our years, our lives — and there’s beauty in them. 

I get mad at Keith when he hits the snooze button indefinitely and snuggles under the covers for another thirty minutes, and many mornings I am frustrated and angry with him for not waking up with his alarm, for not washing the dishes the night before, for not doing this or that. And I kick myself every time I do that because I know that maybe even ten years from now when there are kids running around at the break of dawn, and a dog that needs to go out, and more bills that need to be paid, and our own relationship to look after — that I will look back at myself and think, how stupid were you? Why didn’t you let yourself enjoy those seemingly tiny thirty minutes?

It takes a persistent and taxing devotion to paying attention before I can mindfully appreciate these routines that are layered on top of one another and that make up life, and it takes an equal commitment to seeking the good out when I am forced to deal with the divergences from these routines. That same give and take. The routine and the splitting paths from the routine are what make life beautiful and sudden and fragile. 

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