Take a Walk with Me

Friday morning was beautiful, and I thought I would take a walk or a run after dropping the kids at school. Waiting for the bus with the kids, I reached into the pocket of the old fleece I’d thrown on for the morning, and found two-and-a-half dog biscuits. That crushing weight on my chest came back, and I found myself fighting for composure. I managed to get the kids to school without breaking into sobs– though they chose this particular morning to ask me questions about why we’d moved and when we were going back to Marblehead. I told them that being happy here, or anywhere, is a choice we have to make. If we expect life will be good and we will be happy– then we will.

After dropoff, I walked to Primrose Hill– a big, grassy park between home and the school. But actually, this is where people go to walk their dogs, so it was no place to get away from my missing Gus. By the time I hit the far side of the hill, I was wiping my eyes (and should I admit it? my nose) on my jacket sleeves, despite my own pep talk to the kids about choosing to be happy. Sometimes you just have to let the hurt come out. I knew there would be days like this– there just are, when you change everything in your life.

Across the road from Primrose Hill is Regent’s Park and the London Zoo. I studied the map just inside the gates, and started walking down the wide, gravel walkway which runs right next to the London Zoo– separated really just by a hedge and a fence. As I walked, the most mournful cry rose from somewhere beyond the hedge. I don’t really know what kind of creature it was, but it was a keening cry– and I had the urge to throw my head back and just join in. Instead, I let it speak for me– expressing the sense of loss I was feeling that morning, not only for Gus, but for my changed and changing family, the home and friends I left behind, and the sheer distance between me and so many of the people I love. Peeking over the fence to try to find the source of the cry, I saw only a bunch of penguins standing quietly beside their pool. The cry seemed far too majestic to have come from these birds (I do remember those squabbling penguin cries from all our visits to the New England Aquarium!), but I had a fleeting sense of commiseration with those flightless birds so far from home. Then I remembered they were probably born in captivity right there in the zoo…

I walked on, watching jewel-colored, exotic birds in their netted enclosure, and then eventually sitting on a bench to enjoy the sun. From there I watched a man across the park a ways, sitting on a bench next to a soccer pitch, looking out across the field, with his dog sitting next to him looking out as well– you know how it is, when dogs sometimes resemble their owners (these were both bulldogs). I envied the undemanding companionship they had, because I miss that so with Gus. Just then a small, fuzzy, elderly dog trotted up to my bench unaccompanied and stood at my feet, looking up at me with what I swear was a compassionate gaze! I let him sniff me, then gave him a few little rubs on the head and scratches behind the ear. Bless his little doggy soul. His owner called from way down the path, and he obediently walked off while the owner patiently waited for him. I walked on, too– all the way across Regent’s Park and back, and then over Primrose Hill again and home. I mapped it out later and it was a good 6 miles. By the time I got home, my head was more or less right again.

I reach the end of this commentary and wonder if I should hit “publish.” It’s kind of a downer, right? But I guess I have a choice with this blog, too. I can keep it light and confined to amusing anecdotes, or I can keep to the spirit of having coffee with a real friend and having more than surface chit-chat. Over my Americano this morning (I actually am in my England’s Lane Starbucks right this moment), I’m keeping it real rather than superficial and bright. But don’t worry about me– my sad day has passed. I will continue to choose to be happy, and I have a cute story to tell you next time…

As they like to say around here, “Cheers.”

5 thoughts on “Take a Walk with Me

  1. Okay, so I have days similar to this and I didn’t even move across the Atlantic.  Glad you indulged in some time to process all the swirling emotions.  The second picture and your comments made me think of Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken – a favorite of mine.

  2. Pingback: A look inside my bit of London | A fresh cuppa chaos

  3. Pingback: Reunions and Happy Endings | A fresh cuppa chaos

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