Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Air Fairs

The weather in Chicagoland is often inclement this time of year, so when I take Kornflake for a walk, I still occasionally bundle up, scarf around my neck, hat tugged over my ears. (Kornflake: my big red dog, breed unknown but suspected mix of greyhound and lab, or redbone coonhound and something.) Head down, I plod toward the end of our driveway then peek to check for traffic before we venture onto the street. (No sidewalks in our neighborhood.) But Kornflake, well he’s got his nose up in the air sniffing for possibilities, his expectant tail wagging so hard his whole body agitates as if competing against my grandmother’s old ringer washer for the best swishing action.

I miss Kornflake when I’m on the road. I miss his enthusiasm, his head in my lap, his protective nature, his presence near my feet as I write, like I’m doing now, in a hotel room that suddenly seems extraordinarily bland sans his drool and toys. Of course I miss my husband, too. But those of you with pets understand what I’m talking about, which is their endless stream of love, no words necessary. Since words are my commodity, doggie cuddle time is a slice of pure heavenly relief.

But what I find myself missing the most about Kornflake today is his personal approach to travel. Even though we take the same route every day, every step of the way his attitude is perched on the verge of a new discovery. Whether or not he’s been “there” before, he’s equally eager to explore both the overt and covert corners of his world. And leave his mark. Even when he’s out of ammunition to do so.

Yes, in the fine tradition of those who play air guitar, Kornflake sometimes air pees. When, by the end of the walk - - and due to an empty reservoir - - he’s forced into this behavior, I always laugh and think, “Whew! Got THAT covered. NOT!” And yet today, even though I’m tired after business meetings and find my emotional reservoir waning, I want to muster Kornflake’s remarkable enthusiasm to press on with the heart of a true explorer, to continue giving it everything I’ve got, even though I don’t have it anymore. I find the concept inspiring.

No, I do not, by way of genetics, feel compelled to “let loose” on lamp posts. (And aren’t we all thankful for THAT?!) But I wish I possessed Kornflake’s indomitable spirit for all my travels, whether to the same old or the very new. I wish I always exhibited his rich expectancy and unending desire to explore. Thanks to Kornflake’s wonderful witness, I wish to leave my mark - - an enthusiastic statement that “Charlene was here, and she ENJOYED it!”- - wherever I may roam.

Thanks, Kornflake, for modeling the behavior of a happy-happy sojourner.

But the reality is this: in spite of all of Kornflake’s marvelous modeling and my meditations on such a deep traveling concept, even though I’m currently staying in an all new location for me (NYC’s China Town), tonight the only mark I’ll be leaving on this little corner of the world is my fingerprints on the remote control.

[NOTE TO KORNFLAKE: Never again will I laugh at your air pees. I totally get it.]

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