this week sucked

love and loss and a dog

I love my dog. A lot. Too much, probably; last May I ambitiously submitted a “Modern Love” essay to The New York Times that detailed our mutual devotion. I have yet to hear back, and now I hope I never do.

I imagine I’ve run out of salt water. I’ve been crying at work, crying at home, crying in the car. Tears leak into all, like a faucet I cannot fix. It’s getting embarrassing. Even in school, faced with the most benign of prompts, I cry.


Prompt: Write about a long drive.

I am planning a drive to Pleasantview for Saturday. It will be anything but pleasant, though I picked the town for location, not for dramatic effect; it is evenly placed between my town and Steve’s. I’ve never met Steve, nor his wife, but they will both be there, at the Pleasantview Wendy’s, at 10:30.

They want to meet my dog. I’m not sure why. He bit our lab three times and my grandma once. He has a weight problem, an allergy problem, a guarding problem, and his nails grow too fast. 

The behaviorist promises he is fixable:

No, he won’t bite kids if you train him around kids. 

No, he won’t attack dogs if you bring him to the dog park. 

Yes, training will work. 

Does this work for normal people, or just dog trainers?

Which children should I volunteer? Hers?

I ruminate. Wherever I go he is there, reminding me of his devotion. I am torn between the teeth I’ve seen and the dog beside me now. He looks up trustingly, with his blue and brown eyes, his small tail twitching with joy, and I can’t help but love him back. He is a friend. He’s seen me through the worst of times and the best of times. I wanted there to be more times. 

Others will judge me, but I don’t trust me.

I feel guilty. I am guilty. 

I see us on Saturday; he will curl up in the front seat beside me. He will put his nose on the console, let me scratch behind his ears at the stoplights. He will pant, his pink tongue a bright spot against his white chest, his speckled gray back. He trusts me and I am leaving him. Another thing I’ve loved and left. 

I try to break it down, keep it simple. It’s just a drive. A meeting. A Wendy’s.

But then we will get to Wendy’s and simplicity will stop. He will wiggle his nub and hop out of the car. He will sniff the at the grass. We will peel our eyes for the unfamiliar car that holds a man named Steve and his wife. Together we will decide. 

I wonder if they’re kind. I wonder if I’ll change my mind. I wonder if I’ll drive away with an empty seat beside me, no traces left but shedded hair, and cry.


You can imagine how Saturday went. 

The couple was sweet; just this morning they assured me Bean has become “a big part of our little family.” 

My heart is warm, but broken.

And now, in the absence of one dysfunctional dog, there is nothing left to distract me from the more obvious truth: I am lonely. Really lonely. I realize that within my circle of friends, most live in another state. Most are married. Most have children. I can count on one hand the number of friends I have left who are single (in the sense that they are not married) though I struggle to think of anyone, siblings aside, who do not, at the very least, have a boyfriend. 

I am alone on this island. The grass here is charred, marked by plans that blossomed and withered under the scorching gaze of divorce. I wander around the desert, tumble weeks mocking, and find I’ve accidentally become a career woman.

Single wasn’t always a euphemism for lonely. For a while it was fun. There was a newfound sense of adventure, flexibility. The freedom to make my own choices. And, of course, there was always Bean. We were a neat little team of two. When asked about my home life, “It’s just me and my dog,” was enough. 

Until he was biting, then biting more, and I got lost. There were solutions but they were complicated ones; they demanded investment, prioritization, and held no guarantee of success. The liability would remain, squarely placed on my single-person shoulders. There was one else to carry the responsibility with, no one to distribute the weight.

Desolate in decision making, I decided to give my dog to a couple who promised they would love him and had the skills to help him. They were a team. They didn’t mind the vigilance or restriction or anxiety that comes with a sweet dog who hides a mean streak; they were ready to pick up where I couldn’t stand guard any longer.


In therapy we work on saying what I don’t have by adding a “yet.” I don’t have a date yet a boyfriend yet love yet a family yet. But what if there is no yet? What if the hope is misplaced? What if this is all there is?

How do I make it enough?


The answer comes this morning with feedback on my newest project:

“I’d like to see more of the narrator becoming her own separate person – separate from the husband and father. Most of what we read here is her seeing herself in relation to the men in her life – not her seeing herself individually.”

He’s right.

Who was I? 

Who am I? 

Apart from my ex, my mother, my father, my siblings, my work, my hobbies? 

Apart from my imaginary boyfriend, unrealized husband, fantasy children? 

Apart from my dog?

Is this aloneness a welcome mat? An invitation?

What next?

to my person, someday

a letter to the future

To you, 

If I ever get to meet you,

Just so you know, I like to laugh.

I’m writing this to you, floating on the buzz of Malbec and gin (weird mix, I know), just to let you know about the laughing. It feels important right now. Don’t worry, though, I’m easy to please. I laugh easy, smile easy; life’s better that way.

I make lists, too, just so you know. I wrote this one months ago, on a little pad proudly titled “Eggcellent Notetaker.” I’ve got four sunny-side up themed pages on who I hope you’ll be. Eggcellent, obviously.

Besides that: You will be kind.

The human in me also hopes that you’re cute. Let’s be honest, I’ll have to look at you, and I tend to like guys with sweet smiles and kind eyes. Usually tall too, but that’s not a dealbreaker. Just please don’t be so gym-y that you’re douche-y. Maybe you exercise a little but also eat pizza? We’ll get along better that way, probably. Or maybe that’s just my insecurity talking. I’ll work on it.

Anyway, the back to the list.

I wrote down normal things:

  • Intelligent
  • Genuine
  • Driven
  • Responsible

And some more particular things:

  • Balanced
  • Attentive to the present moment
  • Self-reflective
  • Growth-oriented

And some more fun things:

  • Will dance
  • Will drink
  • Will play games
  • Will have friends

And the dealbreaker NOPEs:

  • Creepy
  • Mean
  • Uses women
  • Doesn’t want kids
  • Lack of faith
  • Disrespectful of boundaries
  • Selfish
  • Lazy
  • Poor priorities

AKA a decent human (according to my sister. Also probably me too, now that I look again).

If you aren’t a nope, congrats. 

If you’re the match for me, we go further.

I think you’ll be faithful, but not a weirdo. I’m Catholic, and it’d be lovely if you were too, but if you were centered on Love and oriented towards Good and understood (as much as any of us can understand) Jesus I think we’d be cool. He’s my friend, and I’d like it if you knew Him too. 

I hope we can go on dates and we can get appetizers and bottles of wine and dessert. I hope you have a budget, but sometimes know that beautiful living means there’s a little bit of wiggle room. Good food requires the wiggle. So does art. And music. And travel. I hope you like those things as much as I do.

I hope over the wine and apps and pasta we talk, and talk, and laugh, and talk some more. I hope you’re a good conversationalist, which implies that you’re also a good listener. And also probably funny.

It’s a pipe dream, but I also hope you are loyal to the Patriots. If not them, at least football. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it’s how I spend Sundays after church. If you’ll be there it’ll be easier if we can just hang and share the nachos.

I hope you love your family. I hope you want one with me. I want one with you.

I hope you are compassionate. 

And here’s what I know, before I’ve met you: 

You have a strong character. You know what you’re about. You’re a leader. A leader who I’ll let lead me because you’re so damn respectful. And you appreciate women. You support them. 

You support me. 

You see me.

And you’re gentle. Strong, and brave, but soft.

Maybe we can read together, some time? With coffee? I like both those things. Then, maybe, a bit of wine and pasta later, we’ll fall in love. And go to church and eat nachos and yell at the TV and talk about philosophy in our sweats then go to game night with the neighbors. Or maybe we’ll cancel on the neighbors because we decided to make a baby or two and finish the nachos in bed.

Anyway. Hope you’re doing well, wherever you are in the world.

Looking forward to knowing you.

Love,

Me.