Wall: : something resembling a wall (as in appearance, function, or effect); especially: something that acts as a barrier or defense.
The Berlin Wall, The Great Wall of China, both hold substantial significance in history. My history, unpublished, had become tattered at the edges, loss, it’s architect. The act of loving, now surrounded by an impenetrable wall, was neither built of money nor political advantage, but survival. That is until he came along.
Dark days fell, far too heavy to lift. One is enough. Multiple are torture. Partner, parents, pets, all gone. Examining the blueprint of my life, any builder would see the footings of it’s foundation were imperfect. As in any young structure weight is supported. Over time, grounds shift, foundations crumble and occasionally structures tumble. I’d secured the love of my life, the one for eternity, and if an after-life exists, there too. Our concrete was poured, dried and lived upon. Then the floodwaters came. With them, the ground shifted and the “once upon a time castle” crumbled.
“I’m tired of losing people I love.” My friend Denise countered. “You don’t mean that. Someone will capture your heart.” Would someone break through my emotional fortress? I felt protected, safe or perhaps numb.
“You’re wrong.” The following summer I met someone. “I’m stepping away, trying something new. Let’s see if this works.” Perhaps a new footing could support me, my inner traffic light turning yellow. He did his best. Flowers, cards, dinners, everything necessary to check the correct box. “For love, check yes, forever, check no.” Would fate check “no”?
In the midst of our budding relationship, Spruce, my English Springer Spaniel, grew old. While vacationing on the boisterous, indulgent streets of South Beach the call came. Spruce had died. If I were to die now, it would be ruled an emotional assassination. In bed, mid- afternoon, my knees pulled to my chest, my heart barely beat once per minute as I grieved. A plaque was embedded in my soul. “No more pets, ever, in my life.” This would insure one less unavoidable heartbreak.
“Alright, I’ll look.” A dog? Inside, torment was churning. Post Spruce, something was amiss. Gone, the waving nubby tail, her saliva on my face, the welcoming bark at the end of tedious days. “But don’t expect anything.” He was a terrier, cute, but not my type. The caged corridor of the rescue shelter was scented with urine, the scruffy faces watched our every move. In a huge, sparse cage, with only a plaid, torn blanket to comfort him, I fell in love. “Let me see this one,” I said, pointing at the ShihTzu , knowing for both of us life was about to change.
He was precious, rambunctious , curious and in a way, royal. A mop of black and white hair. His history? Four months old, left by someone along the roadside. The puppy paws fumbled over to me, nibbled my beard and this adoption became a done deal. My plaque was removed, shattered actually. Two days later, my new found “son”and I made our way home. He sat, curious, in a basket filled with soft blankets, me joyful through my pain. “Hugo”, a large name for a small dog. With one belly rub, brick and mortar tumbled. Puppy breath, chew toys, even small poops in the grass, brought relief to old, stifling fears. I understand. An expiration date is imprinted on the relationship between Hugo and me. It’s one of the multifaceted issues between a human and a dog.
Why would I do this again? Why place myself in the position of falling deeply, only to have it taken? I suppose it’s because we aren’t meant to live behind walls. It seems unnatural. We are meant to be free, to live, run, stumble, lose and love again. I’d lost sight of that last part. Walls, I have learned, don’t simply keep out, they keep in. Walls create prejudice. Hurt, pain, growth, all are prevented from occurring naturally, as they should, without restriction. I thought keeping emotional expression out would stop me from grieving, in fact it stopped me from living. Today I am full. I love my partner and life, more so, the ability to say “love” without fearing the end. And when an end does come, as it naturally shall, who’d ever think there may be no Berlin Wall? It would have never been me. Without prejudice, Hugo, unconditionally, dismantled this unemotional soul , to retrieve once again, that loving, emotional heart.