Life Becomes Claire

Darlene has been dreaming of and searching for a miniature Yorkie for more than a year. This week she found one, the only puppy in a litter born June 11 in nearby Brighton, Colorado. She visited the puppy on Thursday, and yesterday we drove out to Brighton with checkbook and camera. After browsing long lists of French girls’ names, we have decided on Claire, which means “clear” in French. We met Claire’s parents, Mimi and Max, and the breeder, Helen, said we can come back any time for pre-parenting visits. Darlene brought t-shirts we had worn the night before, so Claire could get used to our scent, eau de Fifi et Leonard.

This morning our roles have reversed. I am oddly upbeat about this new addition to the family, and Darlene is filled with worry. Dogs are technically not allowed in our building, a rule which is winkingly violated by a woman on our floor who owns three little Yorkies. In my mind a dog this size, who can come in and out of the elevator in a handbag, does not fit the common law definition of “dog.” The plan is to ask forgiveness rather than permission, a strategy which gives me the willies. Thus Claire has already lured me from my comfort zone, even before she arrives. We are scheduled to pick her up on the way to Maine at the end of the month. She’s destined to be a flying dog, or perhaps she will clear the way for us to abandon gypsy life for a while.

John. That’s the name of the guy I visited with on my way over to Starbucks just now, 10 minutes ago. It’s taken that long to fish his name out of pre-France memory. He lives in the high-rise next to ours, and I’ve visited with him a number of times in the past. Memory is just one feature of the intense cluster of mental and emotional disorientations I’ve been going through in the week since we returned. In the right frame of mind, I would find it spiritually refreshing to reenter my life and find it changed, out of whack, so that I feel like a tourist in my home town. Isn’t that the way every day should be, brand new? The problem, as always, comes in mis-defining reality, in insisting that I “should” remember John’s name the instant his face looms into view. If I’d been free of that ridiculous parameter I would have simply asked him to remind me of his name, which would also have provided a chance gently to correct his own mangling of mine as “Mr. Eberly.” “Actually, that’s Edgerly, Len, but I’m sorry to say I have forgotten YOUR name…” A good traveler learns the skill of asking questions, especially questions you think you don’t need to ask.

If all goes well actuarilly for Claire and me, I will be around 70 years old at the time of her departure. This is a dizzying thought, a way of wondering what the bejeezus we have done. She is a new country, with a name from the country where we lived for three months and came back changed.

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