Anything Lime

Taking a walk

When I was just a wee child, a seed of fear was planted in my fertile mind. And now after years of growing that little seedling has transformed into a giant redwood of paranoia. I walk out my door to take out the garbage and immediately assume that people are out to get me. At any moment in time a band of hoodlums is going to pull up in a van, yank me in, shave off all my hair and steal my diamonds. MY DIAMONDS! And, unless you count the ex-convict who steals my identity and occasionally takes my dog to flyball class, I’ll never be heard from again.

Feeling braver than usual, I decided to venture out from the confines of my apartment, something I hardly do without an escort except for my sprints to and from my car to make an emergency trip whenever I run out of chocolate. I decided that Kya and I would take a stroll around the lake. And by stroll, I of course mean a more-than-three-mile power walk.

We started off strong, our feet pounding the sidewalk as we finished the first quarter mile. “Yes. a quarter mile through and I’ve still got my diamonds. And my hair.” But, of course, I plan for what I would do just in case someone were to attack me. There’d be no chance for a water escape because of the gators. Though, they probably wouldn’t follow me in. And it’s only a short swim to my apartment. Hmm… that could work if we swim fast.

Then, of course, an argument ensues. Of COURSE that’s not going to work. There’s no way you’d ever have the guts, or the stamina, to swim across that lake. What if Kya drowned? What if you drowned and took her down with you?

Me: “Kya, if we get separated because some men pull up in a black, unmarked van and drag me away and we never meet again, listen to me: run and hide. And, when the coast is clear, run home. Hear me? And stay on the sidewalk, I don’t want you in the street with the cars. There are too many maniac drivers around here. Oh, and darling, mommy loves you.”

Kya: [English translation] “Cut back on the CSI, spaz.”

So we continued around the lake, and after about our first mile, we approached a man in a cowboy hat. He asked if he could meet Kya. He was intrigued by her, pulled in by her beauty. Because what isn’t beautiful about a dog who gets mistaken for being overweight as she’s panting puddles through her gentle leader harness? What’s not captivating about a chain of drool hanging out one side of her sloppy jowl and dragging on the sidewalk behind her.

She, of course, shied away from the man. Because, duh, what is Kya if not high maintenance?

“Sorry, she’s just being shy,” I said, which sounded more polite than, “Don’t take it personally, dude. She only hates you because she’s a total biotch.”

He responded, “She’s not shy, just cautious. And that’s just ’cause she loves you so much, sweetie.”

Whenever I hear “sweetie” come from the mouth of a man I’ve not met before, my stomach jumps into my brain and my intestines tie themselves in bows. Surprisingly, I didn’t get the urge to yank off my sneaker and strangle him with my shoelaces. I didn’t even clench my fist to protect my diamonds.

“Nice meeting you. Have a good night,” I said. We continued walking. Me smiling, Kya panting.

We passed several couples and families with strollers and poodles, and we even saw one man drive by on a motorcycle with his dog, a boxer, riding in front of him. I waved, mostly because I assumed I was hallucinating because of the July heat or the hallucinogens I’d taken earlier that day.

We were about halfway around the lake when I saw a man walking around in his driveway. He just came out of his house and he was carrying a bowl of water. As I kept walking a dog came into view, a dog I couldn’t see before because the man’s giant, gas-guzzling vehicle was blocking his dog, his lawn and all of his neighbors’ houses. I stopped judging him for his reckless overconsumption of natural resources when I saw him place the bowl of water in front of the dog. I felt myself slow down as Kya and I got a good look at the dog. White fur had grown on his face, making him look quite distinguished. His chocolate brown fur had faded to a dull color, almost a gray-brown. I thought he was perfect. The man gave me a big smile, “Enjoy walking,” he said. “Thank you,” I said. “Enjoy not walking.” And, while it might, out of context, seem like a cruel thing to say, he knew just what I meant. We were enjoying time with our dogs. His days of long walks are over. Now his time is spent bringing bowls of water out into the driveway. Precious time he wouldn’t want to spend doing anything else. We smiled and waved, and Kya and I continued on our way.

I don’t know how often we’ll do this walk. Partly because Kya nearly keeled over, but mostly because I am too paranoid to have a routine. Surely if I walk the SAME route at the SAME time EVERY DAY… someone with binoculars (BINOCULARS!!) is sure to watch me, spy on me, and then follow me to the darkest, most secluded place on our walking path and murder me in cold blood. Don’t worry about my diamonds, though. When we get to the dark part of our walk, I hold my ring in my mouth so I can swallow it in case I encounter any danger.

So, regardless of how infrequently or sporadically we take this walk around the lake, I am happy for today: for the memories we have made and the moments we shared with strangers. And I really think that while I am still quite effed up when it comes to irrational fears, I think I’m on the right path toward recognizing the goodness in people.

I’m not, however, on a path to stop checking and rechecking my locks 87 times before bed. Some quirks are here to stay.


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