Spurned

on

In a little while, I will be leaving my neighborhood and moving to a new one. The two neighborhoods are similar, in that they are both nestled in foothills and surrounded by wild lands, where wildlife lurks around residential areas. I’ve often thought this is not much different from what some call “the African bush,” except for running water, electricity and more durable housing.

Well, I’m trading a neighborhood with bears (which I, thankfully, never came face-to-face with), mountain lions, wild parrots, and deer, for another with rattlesnakes, coyotes, and a few other interesting critters. Am I crazy? I often ask myself the same question. Both are quiet and green–things I prize immensely–so I suppose I must pay the price for foliage and peacefulness.

One of the things I’ll miss about my current neighborhood is a dog whose name I don’t even know. This is a big deal for me, since I’m generally not wild about pets. The dog is a chocolate lab, slightly smaller and definitely less energetic than the one I took care of two summers ago, and she lives a block away from me. We’ll just call her Brownie.

I first noticed Brownie when I started taking daily walks in my hilly neighborhood, the perfect location for a workout. Brownie lives halfway up the hill, a block away from me, and her owner always seems to be away when I walk by. Brownie sits just inside the chain link gate fence, head on front paws, mournfully watching for her owner’s return.

Every time I walk into view, she raises her head expectantly, but upon seeing me, she drops it back down on her paws as if to say:

Oh, it’s just her.

In contrast, I’m always excited to see Brownie, calling out an energetic greeting, waving, smiling and trying to get her to engage with me in some way. All in vain. This has been going on for months. There are times I’ve wanted to say to her:

If only you would let yourself get to know me, you’d find that I am beyond amazing!

After months of this spurning, I had concluded that Brownie just didn’t have a thing for strangers. Until I walked up the street one day to the sound of a dog barking.

I got closer to Brownie’s house and realized that it was her! Barking! I didn’t even know she could do that. She was also running around in tight, little circles, trying to get the attention of her neighbors’ kids, who were playing on the tree swing in their yard next door. They paid her no attention.

I walked by Brownie’s house, calling out to her, trying to get her excited about me, but no. Clearly, she thought the kids were way more exciting, and the kids thought the tree swing was way more exciting.

There we were, caught in this pitiful love triangle, looking for love in all the wrong places. And now we’ve squandered the opportunities we had to get to know each other. It’s Brownie’s loss, right?

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