Tonite I was humbled by the wisdom of my dog, Griffin. I mean who knew that a young boy born on the streets of Bangkok, caught in a great flood and by chance gathered up into a small boat floating through the abandoned city, brought to the northern city of Chiang Mai, and pocketed away into a pen with nine other dogs on an elephant sanctuary would find a home with me on the skin of the west coast of a continent on the other side of this planet to become my teacher.
This night, I saddled him and his wild somewhat feral girlfriend who also came from Thailand and has lived in my backyard petrified of coming inside since February when I brought her back (actually she is really coming along and at night I bring her in and with great trepidation she does cozy up with me and sleep soundly) yes I saddled them up and we went for a walk tromp sing along through the sounds of crickets on streets with no sidewalks towards Fernhill park.
To be honest, I didn’t saddle them up. I actually linked a rope to the chain around their neck (some call it a leash) because this is the world we live in. They have come to accept this as have I, and it is necessary due to fast moving cars and quartered off territories we humans have created, but I do my best to lighten the load by pausing when they want to sniff or mark their path or investigate something that my feeble mind and senses don’t notice.
I mean hell they are so much more aware of what's going on than I am. Why do we assume greater intelligence? I am trapped in a human world aware of the lines and patterns, the schedule and time that we made up and the rules and laws that disobey the laws of nature and I will tell you what this is not the appropriate time to take a walk in the dark if you’re a girl or if you are meek regardless of what’s between your legs. But I am not meek and I love walking at night with these companions down this paved road with street lights that stay still but my shadow dances from full to faded as I move along towards the park.
When we get there I let Griffin free but need to keep Chiklet on the leash because she doesn't quite yet understand the ways of this world. As we walk through the field we approach the old pine tree where I once met a love of my life for the first time for a short time. It was about a year ago, a blind date on a blanket with a candle and a bottle of wine. Griffin was there too and I thought to myself, This is fabulous even if he doesn’t show. But he did, and We had a true and memorable experience, a wild and intimate interaction, but as I said it was short lived and a whole different story than this one.
That was a year ago and this night there is someone else there. A man who has been kinda living under this tree all summer long. I have seen him wake up in the mornings sitting upright in his dirty down coat with legs hidden in his dusty sleeping bag under a hot sun while joggers and dog walkers, middle school football teams, athletes and overweight housewives running and walking the track see him not. Some might call him homeless, but obviously this park and the protection of this tree is his home for the moment. I can hear him talking loudly, his voice is a grumble. He digs his heels in on his vocal chords pushing the sound and breath through like a littered wind on angry gravel. I walk a wide berth giving him space or maybe it’s me and my fear that needs space I mean I am a girl in a field at night, doesn't that make me guilty of something? Society suggests so…
But still, Griffin with his sleek trot through the darkness, his relaxed presence and easy going smile strolls towards the guy. I can see their silhouettes. He is sitting upright conversing heatedly with an invisible someone. Griffin like butter on hot toast slides up to him with a nonchalant hello. I call to my thai dog companion. I whistle. I walk in the other direction, but he is his own person and wants to say hi like he does with everyone.
I feel tension bubbling up in my body. I call him again, “Hey come here, come on Griffin,” but it is of no use. I see his shadowy form lope up to the grumbling man, and no longer can I hear his voice. The man is quiet and looking at this peaceful creature I am graced to be in relationship with. I feel the current of calm in that grumpy crazy man who sleeps under the tree at Fernhill park become no longer crazy or grumpy. He is acknowledged by this magic boy who understands what it is to be on the streets.
If it wasn't for Griffin I would have avoided the whole subject and it is more possible and becoming the norm that if you don’t want to see something you delete it, you block her, you stop following them… but disappearing someone does not mean they don't exist.
So now I am home with my animal family and that man sleeps under the stars. And in the morning we will both wake up with a little bit of lonely in our hearts and I will think of him and with a little luck and a touch of mercy, he will think of Griffin.