For example, I let the dog lead me when we take our walks. I've heard it's a thing you're not supposed to do. You're the human and she's the dog. But I like to see where she wants to go. The usual left when we head out the door, or will she go to the right today? Each intersection is another decision, and who knows which way she'll choose.
Last weekend I surprised her by not taking her on a walk at all. I woke up after a restless night's sleep, hastily packed, and drove back to the place where I'd grown up. The trip took eleven hours. It was boring and painful on my neck and shoulders and I was listening to an audio book, a mystery about injustice and human frailty, and stuffing my face with gas station snack foods, so I wouldn't have to think too hard about why I was driving alone to the place where I'd grown up.
A good friend told me once that people go to funerals to commemorate the person who died and to comfort the person's loved ones. I wanted to commemorate the person who died, but I wasn't sure how much comfort I could give to the person's loved ones.
My goal was get to my hotel before the sun set because I don't like to drive in the dark, but I didn't achieve my goal. The last hour I drove half blinded by headlights and relying entirely on my gps. Even though I grew up there, I don't know the area well. I left when I was eighteen, what I jokingly used to describe as "running away from home." But the truth is, I really did run away from home and it wasn't the first time.
Something lovely about the person who died is that she took me in one of those times, and no questions asked. Here's a funny story about this person: one time we went sledding when I was home from college on winter break, and we crammed together on the same sled, pushed off at the top of the hill and immediately were hit with so much snow, clumps of it smacking our faces, laughing wildly, snow in our mouths, slamming into a snowbank at the bottom of the hill, still laughing, and laughing more, when she confessed that she'd just peed in her snowpants.
On the way over to the funeral, I ignored the gps and left the highway to drive past my old house. It looked like any other house in the neighborhood, a nice house, instead of what it actually was, and then it was on to meet up with my relatives, some of whom I hadn't seen in twenty years. They were nice, which is what they actually are, and I don't know when it hit me, at the funeral or somewhere along the drive back to my real home, that I too am a loved one, and I felt comfort.
I was gone for less than 60 hours, but in that time, the entire book collection of the Little Library in front of our house had turned over, all of the books unfamiliar and interesting and waiting for me to browse them. But first I grabbed the dog's leash and let her lead me where she wanted to go.