Aside from a cloudy sky – yes, here in Vancouver people can get quite spoiled after a couple of days of sunshine and they behave as if they’ve never heard of rain – nothing is out of the ordinary this morning. Sasha bikes and Tony and I walk to school. We talk about cats and dogs. Tony wants a cat, actually “can I have two, Mom? Then we can each have one.” Provided that Sasha’s asthma-triggering severe cat allergy is no longer with him, I am willing to consider. Sasha wants a puppy, he says, but he agrees with his brother that having a dog and two kittens could be nice indeed. I try to throw some sense into the conversation before life-changing decisions are being made but my boys would have nothing to do with it. And they shouldn’t. I am guilty of fantasizing about life too, so what’s wrong with that after all.
We pass by a sprinkler that makes yet another shameful statement for all sprinklers out there as half of its liquid bounty is wasted on the sidewalk. And it’s cloudy, about to rain, that is.
Two blocks down in between two houses I see a big hole in the ground. There used to be a house there. Small white thing. And I don’t mean small just to make you go “aww.” It was really tiny and it had tiny windows and a tiny porch at the back. I’ve never seen anyone go in or come out, but I know it was inhabited because the smoke stack was puffing all winter. Two days ago it was still there and now this big hole makes me think of a wisdom tooth pulled out and the hollow space that took its place creates another one in my heart. I got so used to seeing this little house every day, standing there like an old white-haired lady, greeting me ever so gently, and now that it’s gone, I feel like I never got to say goodbye to it and that’s plain sad.
A new big house will take its place soon and I’ll have to readjust my walking expectations as I walk past it.
A hug later Tony makes his way to school and Sasha and I turn around and head home. Past houses with perfect windowsills and lawns, past coiffed-up dogs that seem to have understood that well-behaved dogs do not pull on their people and do not ever mind others as they pass by. My fear is that with time we’ll all become so well-behaved we will live in parallel bidimensional worlds that will slide by each other but never make contact.
Up ahead on the back lane I see one of my neighbors, Mr. B, a retired fireman. He’s walking his rather scrawny, imperfect little dog, an off-white old fellow that barks when the circumstances would dictate otherwise. He was left behind by the niece, Mr. B. told me once. A big SUV makes the four of us glue our backs to the bushy sides of the lane in an attempt to let the big chunk of metal pass by. “Good thing they don’t make them bigger or they’d be scraping us all off the pavement,” I say laughing. Mr. B. is one of the few around here speaking his mind and loving it when others do so when it comes to life and such. Bashing unnecessarily big gas-guzzling SUVs is a common pleasure it seems. We’ve had quite a few good fresh conversations since we first bumped into each other on one his dog walks. I like talking to him knowing that he’ll never feed me the mellow politically correct views everyone is serving to everyone here in an attempt to match the perfect lawns and windowsills. We chat for a bit and then his imperfectly cute dog drags him up the street. It happened before and it’s a good thing, it shows that this small hippie-looking dog still has a good dose of canine pride left intact. Come to think of it, he’d be a perfect match for a tiny house with tiny windows. All of a sudden I realize that the imperfectly perfect dog is in many ways the ambassador of those good old days when tiny white houses were still loved enough to be left in place. A big job for a little dog but I have a feeling he can handle it well by the way he’s pulling Mr. B. across some perfectly manicured lawns.