The two of us stood idly by the lake, shivering slightly as the breeze swept over the water. Periodically, she’d pick up a tennis ball and chuck it off into the distance. Her dog, a ball crazy yellow lab, would frantically dive into the water in hot pursuit. My dog, not much of a retriever but eager to play nonetheless, would follow enthusiastically.
We had absolutely nothing in common. She was fat. I was thin. She dressed in old sweat pants and a baggy, multi stained T-shirt. I wore blue jeans and a form fitting shirt with a collar. Her hair was slicked back in a greasy ponytail; mine was mussed and perfectly styled courtesy of my over expensive gay hairdresser. Her accent carried the faint hint of a southern drawl; mine contained nothing but the empty blandness of someone who has never lived anywhere noteworthy. She was single, a shut in really, and her time at the lake was her moment of excitement in otherwise droll and uneventful day. I’m a married woman, intensely busy, and my time at the lake is meticulously set aside to afford me one moment of peace.
Despite our numerous differences, we often met at the lake. We were friends simply because our dogs were friends. This phenomenon is something only other dog lovers, or perhaps parents, can understand.
For some reason, our conversation veered onto the topic of theology and the age old question of, “Why are we here?”
“People sometimes ask me,” she said as she watched her dog paddle towards the ball, “why I get up in the morning. I tell them it’s because I have to let the dog out!”
I laughed appreciatively at her joke.
“Then they say,” She continued, “’No, seriously. What keeps you going? Is it faith in God? Something like that?’ And I say, ‘No, seriously! It’s because I have to let the dog out!’”
She trailed off a little as we watched our dogs romp in the distance. For some reason, I felt slightly unsettled. I struggled to say something incredibly witty, but I mentally froze. Then, a thought hit me like a cold splash of water from the lake we were standing beside:
Her reason for getting out of bed every morning…was exactly the same as my reason for getting out of bed every morning.
It took me a moment to regain my composure, but when I did; my witty retort was replaced with a simple, “Yes. Me too.”
She nodded slightly in reply.
We both stood there for a moment, subdued. She watched the dogs race each other for another bite of the tennis ball; I found myself lost in the midst of thoughts as muddy as the water. For the first time, I considered all the days I had stood with her by the lake, mentally adding up all the ways in which we were different…never once noticing that in all the ways that mattered we were exactly the same.
- High Drama at the Dog Park
- Self Imposed Insomnia
- Teenage Sexuality and a Pink and Black Bikini
- Little Gun Babies
- Adventures in Volunteering Part 2