In the most recent post on her website, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, the current Poet Laureate of Kansas, writes:
In Kansas where I live, particularly in the western part of the state, the land is curved and lined with beautiful stone fence posts, each one holding the wire fencing from one place to another. We have such fence posts in our lives too: moments, events, occasions that stand as strong posts leading our lives along the same route or turning us new directions…Fence post moments are the times we want to remember because they changed or reinforced something vital about who we are, how we live, why we’re alive.
What an incredibly vivid analogy and beautifully worded thought. (Thanks, Jordana, for introducing me to Caryn’s website!)
In the same post, Mirriam-Goldberg challenges her readers to make a list of their own fence posts moments and to write about them. So, always up for a challenge, I sat down at my computer this morning and began contemplating my own fence post moments, unsure where to start.
About that time, Teddy, who was–and still is–snoozing away loudly under my desk, popped the cheese. Stiiiiinky cheese. As I wrinkled up my nose and began looking for something to fan away the blue cloud, I inwardly grinned when I realized that Teddy is as good a fence post moment to write about as any. A fence post I never saw coming.
I won’t bore you with the re-telling of how Teddy came into our lives. You can read all about that in a previous post titled “Meet Teddy.” But I will tell you this: our decision to adopt Teddy was totally an instinctual response to the moment. All heart, no head. I couldn’t then–and still can’t today–offer up any plausible rationale for why we brought that wrinkly faced, squared-butted little mutt home. Instead, I can give you numerous reasons why we never should have, including–but not limited to–the extremely expensive fence we’ve had to put up; the vet bills for ear infections, skin rashes, teeth cleaning, grooming, et al; the loss of freedom to come and go without worrying about an animal; the interrupted sleep when someone–who shall remain nameless–whines while chasing bunnies in his sleep; and the definite deterioration of the air quality in my office on a darn-near daily basis.
Still, I’d fight you to the death if you tried to take him away from me. To the death.
Teddy reminds me–and everyone else around here–every single day what’s really important.
Had a bad day? The boss making you crazy? You say he’s making you work this weekend? You have to travel to meet clients where? For how long? The doctor made you wait for more than an hour before seeing you? You have to have your blood drawn again, a mammogram, a colonoscopy, and you have to wear braces? Damn. Well, just lie down here on the floor. I’ll curl up next to you and make sure you understand that nothing is more important–nothing–than a good snuggle and a belly rub.
You want me to come inside so you can go run errands? Have you been outside today? Have you felt how warm the sun is and seen how green the grass is even though it’s already December? Have you ever just parked yourself here in the liriope belly up and watched the clouds? No? Well maybe you should consider it. Trust me. The errands can wait.
Still haven’t fixed the splotchy paint in the living room and kitchen? Floors need to be scrubbed? Yeah, those windows are pretty dirty, but how about if we go for a ride in the truck instead? You drive, and I’ll perch myself on the console and nuzzle your arm as we go. I’d be extra happy if you’d turn on the vent so my ears get blown around a little bit. See, isn’t this much better than housework?
Every time Teddy sits up on his square butt in anticipation of a Beggin’ Strip, I’m so pleased I followed my gut instincts and brought him home. Every day, when Teddy is following me around like a shadow, intent on keeping me company, I’m grateful Tom honored my “knowing” and didn’t argue with me about adopting him. Every evening, when Tom and Brian are trying to teach Teddy how to play Gotcha (the poor little guy still doesn’t get it, but he’s trying), I’m giddy that I ignored the perfectly practical reasons we didn’t need a dog. And every time Teddy positions himself between me and a contractor, the mailman, or a delivery person and woofs, I’m thankful to be so well loved.
Teddy is a very special fence post for me, one–no doubt–that will lead to many more.