“Hello there!” The woman patted Simon on the head and chatted with him while I stood off to the side, curious. We were at the counter of my vet’s office. Simon and I had just paid for his shots and were getting ready to leave, when this smiling woman came in with a cat carrier on her arm. “Hello!” She finally turned to me. “I recognized your dog. You walk by my house every morning. I live in the house on such and such a street…”
We introduced ourselves and had a few moments of small talk. I’ve never read Chekhov’s “The Lady With The Dog” but that’s how I feel. The lady with the dog.
People may or may not recognize me, but they always know my dog.
Simon and I walk three miles almost every morning. I mapped out a one-mile-loop and we do it three times. Fortunately I live within a mile of the only hills in Modesto, so it’s a great workout.
The mile includes some lovely, expensive homes; some rather run-down homes; and a stretch along the river that feels almost like countryside. I love to watch the changing seasons as we walk the same route every day.
It’s completely residential, but I hardly ever speak to anyone because I hardly ever see anyone. A couple of times a week I see someone pulling out of their driveway and I always get a cheerful wave and a smile. On the rare times I see someone in their yard they smile and seem to know me. And they always greet my dog. One lady actually came out of her house one day to take a closer look, and comment about Simon’s new very short haircut. She said, “I almost didn’t recognize him.” (We had never before had a conversation.)
A few years ago there was a woman who walked by our house every single morning at 6:45. If I was in the yard, we said hello and exchanged pleasantries. She was so faithful. I think she walked by our house every morning for three years. I didn’t know her at all, but I felt a warm feeling toward her because of her faithfulness.
Faithful. It occurs to me that that’s how people see me: “The lady with the dog – they walk by every morning.”
I like to think that my faithfulness in this small thing is making a tiny impact on the lives of people who see us walk by every day.
And it makes me long to be faithful in even bigger things.