Monday, June 15, 2015

Sunday in the Borough of Churches

Brooklyn is the Borough of Churches. I found out recently that's because there were government subsidies for churches to move there as a plan to encourage community building.

Now, though, to the untrained eye, it seems that no one goes to their neighborhood church. Everyone I see on the street is hustling out the door very early all pressed and dressed to go somewhere else or arriving in cabs and Access-a-rides and on foot from far flung boulevards and avenues.

If you know me even a tiny bit you know that church is not my thing. Religion is not my thing. A whole lot of not. My untrained eye is only there at that time of day because I have a dog. I prefer not to rise early but I've gotten used to it (I know some of you are having a hearty guffaw at my characterization of 7:45am as early) after so much canine companionship and I can tolerate it because I don't have to shower or put on fancy clothes. I, sometimes literally, roll out of bed, throw on yesterday's clothes, and hit the bricks with my top notch terrier.

I've written often about how I came to realize after Emily died that walking a dog was integral to my mental health. Emily was reactive to other dogs when she was on leash and I was careful not to have headphones in when I walked her so that I could avoid any conflict. I could spot a yorkie at 1,000 paces. Still can! After a few months without a dog I felt extremely unsettled. My brain wasn't organizing itself properly and I wasn't processing emotions well. It finally dawned on me that I spent my walks with Emily letting my mind do its own thing so that the important items could bubble to the top and I could work on them. A lot of people do this in the shower, and I do too, but it turns out I have problems thorny enough to benefit from more contemplation.

This wasn't solved the minute Ed showed up. I dwelt less on the fact that I was having trouble because all of my concentration went to handling this basketball-sized bundle of fury that was living in my house. Walks were not quiet or calm or slow. I was still watching for dogs and for a long time every second of our walks were work, hard work, work that I often failed in.

Things are different now, though. I've learned to really listen to my dog and to break out of patterns that were more for me than for him. A lot of good things have come of that. A happy dog is not the least of them.

Yesterday I (not literally) rolled out of bed and into some clothes that I'd sweated in hard the day before. I loaded up my pockets with poop bags and dog treats. I checked the weather. I clicked Ed into his harness and we headed out the door. For the next hour we walked wherever the scents of the pavement led him. We walked in places we see once a week, once a month, once a year, and at least one I'm pretty sure I've never been on before. The walk was quiet and calm and interesting. My brain had space to wander, bubble, and re-set itself.

It was like church.

If you like that sort of thing.