In case you haven’t noticed, over the last several months, I get into themes and, some might say, run them into the ground. I prefer to think that I explore all the nuances of a topic. You be the judge.
So, having raised the topic of my dog, let me, uh, explore the nuances of her and how she (and other pets from my past) relate to travel.
One relevant pet from the past was my first dog ever, Easter. She was a beagle named after the day on which we brought her home. With the exception of the rather lengthy baying she would let out when miffed or her tendency to dig holes in the most unusual spots (including attempts to do so through the plywood bottom of her doghouse), she was a great dog.
We got her when I was in Kindergarten and each day when I would head out to school, there she’d be either standing by the door wishing me goodbye or relaxing in the sun. And therein lay the problem.
I liked school and was usually glad to go, but I would have days, as most kids do, when I just didn’t want to be in class. On those days, all it took was to see Easter lying on her side lazily glancing my way and wagging her tail as if in a farewell wave and that’s when it would descend on me faster than a hound to a fire hydrant: dog envy.
Dog envy occurs whenever we wish we were dogs or rather, simply wish we weren’t us, or at least us with all the responsibilities or deadlines or concerns that go hand in hand with being us. On days like that, I would call out to Easter, “You lucky dog,” with no sense of irony. Just a sadness that she could stay home and I couldn’t.
Or so it was until one night when my entire perspective on dog envy flipped like a trained poodle in a circus sideshow.
I grew up in Southern California and once a year we’d go to “Bank Night” at Disneyland, an evening when, after 5:00 p.m., they closed the park and admitted only the employees (and their families) of the bank where my dad worked. It was Disneyland at its best: Nighttime at the park, and so few people that you never had to wait for any rides.
So on this one Bank Night as we headed to the car to leave for Disneyland I looked back. And there sat Easter looking forlorn, her family having abandoned her (or so I projected at the time). And that’s when I realized it: Not “lucky dog” but “poor dog.”
On the ordinary days, I wanted to be her and stay home. But on a special occasion like taking a trip, a trip to Disneyland no less, being a dog was the last thing I’d want to be. I felt so sorry that she had to stay at home…and so happy that I didn’t.
So it is today. My friends who wonder why on earth I’d ever want to travel anywhere outside our city limits, sleep in a bed other than my own or eat unaccustomed food, all these friends are like me back when I had dog envy.
They see the familiar as the better option.
But me…and likely, you if you’re reading this…we know better.
I’ve been to Disneyland– and beyond. And there’s no turning back.
So when these homebody friends ask, usually with some derision, where I’m off to next, I answer them politely and then I just smile.