On the broad spectrum of solitude, I lean toward the extreme end: I work alone, as well as live alone, so I can pass an entire day without uttering so much as a hello to another human being. Sometimes a day's conversation consists of only five words, uttered at the local Starbucks: 'Large coffee with milk, please.'
Happy and alone, you say? Reclusive and merry? How oxymoronic! Pas possible! Alas, the concept is lost on so many.
When you love somebody, or something, it's amazing how willing you are to overlook the flaws.
When you study a dog you love, you find beauty in every small detail, and so it is with Lucille: I have become enchanted by the small asymmetrical whorls of white fur on either side of her chest, and by her tail, which she carries in a high confident curve, and by her eyes, which are watchful and intelligent, the color of chestnuts.
Around the time I began starving, in the early eighties, the visual image had begun to supplant text as culture's primary mode of communication, a radical change because images work so differently than words: They're immediate, they hit you at levels way beneath intellect, they come fast and furious.
What is this drive to be thinner, prettier, better dressed, other? Who exactly is this other and what does she look like beyond the jacket she's wearing or the food she's not eating? What might we be doing, thinking, feeling about if we didn't think about body image, ever?
I saw my parents as model grown-ups, and their manner, their silence, informed my sense of what adulthood looked and felt like. Grown-ups behaved rationally and calmly. Grown-ups worked during the day and came home at night and sat down for drinks and passed the evening quietly.
Before you get a dog, you can't quite imagine what living with one might be like: afterward, you can't imagine living any other way.
The kinds of roles dogs fill can be hard to come by in human relationships. We touch the dog or the pet at whim. There is a lack of self-consciousness and a fluidity to it that is absent from most human relationships. If someone acted that way to you, you'd feel claustrophobic pretty quickly. It's a boundary violation.
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