I have two very insistent loves. Neither of them gives a sh*t about the dishes or the dog hair on the floor or the meals that need to be made. Every morning as I return home from dropping my girls off at school I know I have two and a half hours that are mine. What to do with that time is solely my decision. There is nobody looking over my shoulder giving orders or making requests or wagging their judgemental finger at me. Nobody but me, that is.
He is waiting at the door, fleece toy in his mouth, entire back half of his body wagging, barely contained. He looks as though his hind legs might levitate at any instant. It is impossible not to love him. It is all I can do to put my keys down before I cradle his soft black cheeks in my hands and kiss the top of his head, laughing. It is the same every day. He wants to play. If I don't indulge him now, he will follow me everywhere I go this morning, tripping me up and smiling up at me quietly. If I wait too long, he will start to whimper and look at me from the tops of his eye sockets to remind me how important this is to him. It is so hard to resist him.
As soon as I put my shoes on and grab a few treats from the cupboard, he is heading for the door, long nails scritching across the hardwood as he tries to gain a foothold to get there fast, faster, faster. His 85 pound body squeezes through a ridiculously small crack in the door - he can't wait for it to open all the way before he runs out. Please, please, please, don't change your mind or answer the phone or grab your keys instead, Mom!
I throw the tennis ball and his enthusiasm is released from the fur and skin in which it is trapped, sailing up into the air like a helium balloon some child has let go of. He is off, a greyhound at the track. He always comes back, lime green ball wedged between his jaws, eyes alight. The first few times he gives the ball up easily, eager for more play, moremoremore. If we stop now, he will continue to follow me around the house - not sated. If we continue, he is more and more reluctant to release his prize no matter what treat I offer. He could go on like this for hours, with only small periods of rest and sloppy drinks of water.
My other companion is invisible, but just as insistent and always with me. She is my writing. She is never sated and, while she wants me to play with her, she doesn't always want to give up the ball. I try coaxing her with treats, but sometimes the most enticing treat is not reward enough. Still, she is not willing to go lie down and rest and let me be. I love her as dearly, but occasionally find her annoying. She is messy like the dog - he leaves hair and mud and drool across the floor, she leaves niggling doubts and worry and unfinished sentences. Neither of them understand my desire to go do the dishes, and I must say, I don't find cleaning the kitchen quite so satisfying anymore either.