One night last week I got off work and picked up Gibson and had the thought that I’d take her to the dog park, but because I was running late for a long-awaited girls’ night with friends I haven’t seen in ages, I skipped the dog park and headed straight to my friend’s house. After approximately two and a half minutes of Gibson demand-barking I ran plumb out of my ability to deal because I am imperfect and she is imperfect and we are navigating some substantial life and living-situation changes so my ability to deal isn’t what it usually is.
In retrospect, of course, I realize that I am a perfectly imperfectly human, and she is a perfectly perfect dog, who has needs, that I did not meet that evening — had I just met them, instead of hurrying both of us to our destination, I’m sure everything would have been just fine. And perhaps, I am a perfectly imperfect human who has needs, but I so struggle to know them and identify and communicate them that perhaps I did not meet my own that evening, either. I don’t even know.
Instead of taking a deep breath and cutting myself and Gibson some slack, I burst into tears and worked my way gracelessly to my car, passing through a series of much-needed and appreciated hugs and tears and words of love and comfort from some of the women who provide me my “happy animal” place… the friends who, when I visit their homes with a group of girls I’ve actually been known to nod off during the evening’s girl-talk part because I feel so comfortable and relaxed that my inner little happy animal instincts kick in and the feeling of absolute safety takes over and lulls me to sleep.
So I flunked that particular girls’ night.
And while I selectively apply the wisdom of “you’ve got to get back on the horse,” I do think that wisdom most definitely applies to nights out with friends.
So tonight, I met a(n incredibly talented) dear friend in from out of town and a generous table full of people I hadn’t met before plus one friend from an old job and was treated to a few of the best hugs I’ve received from “strangers” in perhaps forever and we talked about photography and health and aging and haircuts and work and crafting and commutes and geography and aging parents and dogs and kids and divorces and break-ups and moving and the weather. And someone ordered food for the table and then Heidi, the co-owner, asked us a favor: could we please taste test this cobbler that she’d just pulled out of the oven, because, you know, she needed it taste-tested — but she knew there was someone gluten-free at the table so she also brought a side of chocolate-covered honeycomb for the gluten-free in our party. And there were more hugs and sage words and compliments and I’d give my companions an A+ and myself a solid B+ for the night.
The next few weeks will hold ups and downs, good days and bad days (because that’s how these things go), and more change and decision-making, and I’m very much looking forward to another chance at a little happy animal time tomorrow night. For tonight, I’m feeling grateful both for friends who will hold me and cry with me with I can’t keep my shit together, and for those who high-five me when I can.