The Story of My Life (in 3,500 Words or Less) is a series inspired by Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, a relatable and honest memoir.
I have long been the kind of person who talks to myself. It's not uncommon for me to be in the middle of the living room saying, to no one, "What was I doing here?" or "I need to do X, Y, Z." It's gotten much worse since adopting our dog five years ago. His name is Woody. I love to talk to him and for him; there's nothing more delightful than that. It's a great party trick that everyone loves (sarcasm).
Sometimes my conversations as my dog or with my dog have gotten so out of hand that I have horrified even myself. But I do find comfort in talking to my dog. It feels good to talk things out or rely on the presence of another beating heart in the room. And it often makes me feel a little less alone.
As a pet person, I attach a very robust and complex personality to Woody. In the caricature I've created, he's a serious sort of guy, with a "fun" side that appears at inopportune moments (read: very early in the morning or in the middle of the night). He loves people, but prefers to keep an arm's length between himself and other animals. He is very affectionate and loyal and, while high maintenance in many areas, tends to present as a low key kind of guy. His anxiety is always a work in progress, but what mental health struggle isn't? He sounds like the kind of person you'd like to be friends with, right? And besides, he is an excellent sounding board. He nods along as I work through minuscule, day-to-day problems and sometimes licks me or wags his tail in solidarity.
That's all any of us want, isn't it? A pal who is an exceptional listener and is always waiting with a warm heart. Someone who can tolerate the stream of consciousness without a second thought. A witness to the true-blue best and the absolute gum-on-the-sidewalk worst.
There are times where I am 100% certain he knows exactly what I'm saying -- taking it all in and sheltering me with his love. Of course if you're not a pet person, then this probably all sounds like a crock of garbage to you. But if you are a pet person, then you know just what I mean and you have discovered the secret magic of what it means to welcome a pet into your heart and your home. Lucky us.
(More Stories of My Life here.)