So, I called my vet to make my dogs' kenneling reservations for my vacation this summer. Both my dogs are well-loved at the vet's, because it is an absolutely wonderful office staffed by wonderful people. But Darcy is really the legend of the place. When I'm there with him, I hear in the hallways, "I heard Darcy is here!" and staff gathers in the waiting room to see him. It's like being a rock star's bodyguard.
Darcy is an amazing dog. His original owners told us that he was 75% wolf, which is not true, but I still get asked all the time if he's a wolf. (My answer is usually, "No, wolves don't get this tall.") Our best guess is shepherd / malamute / wolfhound. He's enormous, and beautiful, and so obviously gentle. Little children run to him. People inclined towards that sort of thing tell me that he's magical, mythical, out of a fairy tale. He'll look at you with his wise golden eyes and you'll become a person inclined towards that sort of thing. Claudio's new girlfriend (whom I like) says, "He's going to turn into a Russian prince someday, isn't he?"
When I called the vet, I didn't even have to give my name. I said, "Bingley and Darcy," and the woman drew a huge breath and said, "OH MY GOD. DARCY. I GET TO SEE DARCY EVERY DAY. THIS IS A DREAM COME TRUE."
I laughed, and of course posted her quote to Facebook, and then thought about it for a minute.
Seeing Darcy every day is a dream come true.
So is seeing Bingley. So is living in a place where I can have dogs. Every day after work, after errands, after potentially being stressed out by the various slings and arrows of being an adult, I get to come home to my own place, and be greeted by two wonderful dogs who are so happy to see me (and who may have left me various presents in the forms of bodily excretions or dismembered books), and it's all worth it.
I always knew I wanted a dog of my own. Claudio and I pretty much bought a house so we could get a dog. In Bingley's puppy pictures the house isn't even fully unpacked, but it was now officially a home. (Full disclosure: two months passed between Moving Day and Puppy Adoption Day. The house should have been unpacked, but a disciple of Hestia I am not.)
I remember the days I would say, "Someday I will have a big dog." That, for me, symbolized everything happy-making: a place all my own, with no neighbors above or below, no impossible-to-please landlords; a job stable and financially-rewarding enough to be able to afford pet care; and, of course, owning a big dog. I had no idea I'd end up with two big dogs. I had no idea that I'd end up being the sole owner of two big dogs, either, but that was never really too stressful, and the comfort and companionship I got from them when I was loneliest far outweighed what stress there was.
The big advantage of having been a hot mess at one point in your life is that you are never again inclined to underrate stability. During said hot mess period there were dreams of Pulitzers and Tonys and inexplicably-derived great wealth, dreams of being universally admired and desired, dreams of the universe realizing it owed me grand things for the generic tragedy of adolescence ("oh man, you had to survive acne AND pudgy thighs? here's your solid gold house"). But a lot of it, even at my worst, came down to someday I will have a big dog, which was subconscious shorthand for someday I will know what matters. Deep in my psyche, I wanted not to want so endlessly, so resentfully. I wanted to be a person for whom a big dog is enough.
I still have dreams, of course. I want kids and a finished manuscript and to read all the books (you will notice that each of these dreams is largely dependent on not spending time on the other two, but screw it, climb every mountain). And I'd be a humongous liar if I pretended that I have eliminated toxic, entitled wanting from my life.
But there are a lot of nights I sit on my couch with the dogs next to me, and I feel a palpable relief: I did it. I made it here. I made it to the place of safety, the place of big dogs. Streams: forded.
(Disclaimer: sitting on the couch with Darcy may not, in fact, be the place of safety if you are of the male persuasion, given his tendency to slap a giant paw into the groin area of those humans not paying him sufficient attention.)