The Ties that Bind Us

It took almost 10 years for Izzie to figure out she could run away.

For most of her life, she’s been on a leash and in a fenced apartment complex. I’ve always been diligent about making sure of that each time we go out. Lately, however, Izzie has proven to be rather obedient off leash, never going too far from sight and coming when called.

This morning we were out in the backyard. It was chilly, so I was lounging in a patio chair with a thick blanket wrapped around my shoulders while reading my book. Izzie was nosing around along the fence line. We knew there was a gap in the fence that she could easily slip out of, but she’s always stayed in the yard. We never really considered she would ever know how easily she could slip through the gap and take off running.

But I guess there was just something in the cool, crisp air that was calling her because when I heard the chain link fence jingle, I looked up and saw she was already on the other side of the gate, heading west down the alley toward the train tracks.

My stomach lurched. I ran toward the fence barefoot, calling her name. When I leaned over and looked in the direction she had taken off, she was already near the end of the alley. “Izzie!” I yelled. She stopped and turned around and looked at me. “Come here!”

She regarded me for a few seconds, but then darted south out of my view. I couldn’t tell if she had turned the corner down the other alleyway or if she had darted into a neighbor’s yard. “FUCK!” I muttered.

I ran back into the house. Craig was still in bed asleep, but I figured I could catch her without any incident so I grabbed my shoes and ran out the door.

But by the time I made it into the alley, she was gone. I looked into yards, I called her name. I ran around to the other alleys. No sign.

I ran back to the house deciding I would be faster in a car than on foot. I grabbed my keys and my purse and I floored it, barreling out of the cul de sac into the nearest alley behind our houses. I thought if I could just find where she went and call her, she would come back to me.

So that’s what I did. I drove through the alleys, calling her name, peering into yards hoping I would catch a glimpse of her small, furry white body.

But after weaving in and out of alleys, I couldn’t find her. How could she have disappeared into thin air? I realized my search would be more effective if I had another person looking too.

I went back home and burst into the house. “Craig! Wake up!”

By then I was already crying, tears streaming out of my eyes. “Izzie got out of the yard,” I said, shaking him.

He jolted awake. “Huh? What?!”

“Izzie got out of the fence and now I can’t find her! We need to find her!”

Within seconds he was out of bed and running to gather his things, directing me. “Ok you get in the Camry, I’ll get in my truck. Get your phone. I’ll have mine. We’ll drive around through the alleys until we find her. She couldn’t have gone far.”

So I was back in my car. The house was along a somewhat busy street that cars tended to speed on. My worst fear was that Izzie would try to cross said street and a car would hit her. I tried not to think about that.

As I was driving into an alley, I heard her familiar bark in the distance. My heart nearly leapt out of my chest. She was close enough to hear, but I couldn’t see her. I made a U-turn and turned into another alley, swinging around until I was back in the spot where I heard her bark.

And there she was, all the way at the opposite end of the alley close to the house. “Izzie!” I yelled.

She stopped and turned around. She looked surprised to see me, probably because I was in the car. “Izzie, please! Come here!” I begged.

She came running towards me across the length of the alley. Finally she listened to me. 10 years of feeding her, cuddling her, putting up with her trash-digging bullshit finally paid off. I couldn’t contain my joy. It was like a scene from a movie. I held out my arms and she leapt up to greet me, not realizing how much she had made me worry when all she wanted to do was walk the path she always did when she and Craig went on their “neighborhood patrol.”

“Oh my god. Come here you little bitch,” I said, hugging her tight.

We got into my car and I searched for my phone to call Craig. “Honey, I got her,” I said. “She’s safe.”

“You got her? Where was she?” his voice was raw. I think he had been crying too.

“She was in the alley behind the house,” I said with a laugh of relief.

“Ok I’ll see you back at home,” he said.

I wanted to lecture her. Tell her how awful she was for running away and not coming when called. But I couldn’t. She was looking up at me from the front seat, panting slightly so that she almost looked like she was grinning happily. It’s like she was so proud of herself for extending our territory beyond the yard and she figured I would be pleased too. I was just relieved to have her back safe.

When we got back to the house, I didn’t let her hop out of the car on her own like I usually did. I picked her up and cradled her close as if she was a delicate possession that needed to be handled carefully.

A minute later, Craig pulled into the driveway and climbed out of his truck. He had been in such a hurry to look for Izzie, he didn’t even put his shoes on. He looked just as tired and worn and relieved as I did. “Oh honey,” he said. He pulled me and Izzie into a tight embrace and he kissed the top of my head. “I love my girls. It’s my fault. I should’ve covered up that gap weeks ago. And then yesterday I coached her how to slip through the gate when I went back there to fetch her ball. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s ok,” I said. “She’s safe now. Everyone’s happy.”

“Izzie, you little stinker,” he said, scratching her ears. “You had me and your mom so worried.”

I guess in a way, the ties that bind her to me are stronger than I thought. I can now understand Izzie’s anxiety when I leave. She has no way of knowing I’ll come back or be safe out in the world, just like I don’t know if she’ll come back or be safe if she ever slipped out of the yard again. So I guess I know now that I should be a little more sensitive toward her antics when I leave, and also cover any holes in the fence so she can’t get out again.


Craig and I reached some significant milestones this weekend.

From my birthday on Thursday, to Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we spent several consecutive days together. We met each other’s parents and friends. We ran errands together. It was the most significant amount of time we’ve spent in each other’s presence thus far.

And you know what? It felt so easy and natural. There weren’t any disagreements or arguments. We functioned effortlessly like a team as if we had been manufactured in the same plant.

One evening, he brought up something really interesting. “You know, we haven’t had an argument yet,” he said. “I kinda want to plan our first argument just so we can make up.”

I laughed. “Yeah that sounds like a good idea actually. What would we fight about?”

We sat there in silence, both racking our brains about things we might oppose each other on. “Honestly I can’t really think of anything we might potentially have an argument on. I feel like both of us are likely to communicate any issue in an open and mature manner. It’s unlikely we would ever encounter a topic we couldn’t resolve ourselves.”

It’s unprecedented.

Saturday afternoon, we were eating leftover pizza and salad, discussing our plans for the remainder of the weekend, and that was when it happened.

“I want to talk to you about something but I don’t want to freak you out,” he said. “But for logistical purposes, I’d like to give you a copy of my house key and my alarm code so that if for some reason I have to go take care of a delivery and we have plans to meet, you can let yourself in and wait inside instead of out in the car.”

He paused and he looked at me with concern. “Is that ok?”

I smiled. I was ok with that. And so, there we were in the comfort of his kitchen, he removed the spare key off his key chain and he gave it to me. “I feel like we should take a photo of this moment,” he said.

I smiled and I leaped into his arms. I can’t remember the last time I was ever this optimistic. We were official.


When You Least Expect It

“You know… I’ve always believed that when you get this inkling to declutter and purge, it means you’re unconsciously preparing for a significant change in your life.”

My good friend and hair stylist said that to me the last time I was sitting in his chair. “Really?” I said.

He nodded confidently. “Yeah, if you think about it… you’re getting rid of the old and unnecessary things in your life when you declutter. It leaves room for newer, better things.”

Like relationship feng shui. I was unconsciously letting the universe know that I was ready for change.

Even when I sat in my therapist’s office and flat out told her, “I don’t think I want to date right now. I feel like it would distract me from working on me.”

I mean, how could I know what I want in a relationship, how I can present myself to someone, when I’m not even sure who I am? I felt like I got it. I finally had the secret to life and grown up relationships.

Instead, the universe heard my declaration and said I needed to be tested. It said, “She thinks she’s figured it out? Well, we’ll see about that.” So a week later, Craig finds me.

He is incredibly smart and funny, very focused and driven. He’s got this passionate personality–as if someone lit a fire under him the day he was born and he’s been going ever since. We spend hours talking about everything almost every night. And it’s not just him talking about himself, it’s him engaging with me, asking about me, but also me engaging with him so that we learn about each other equally. And most of all I admire him. I know this because when I think about something he said or did, I smile unconsciously.

What’s even better? He’s not perfect, and he’s aware of it.

So, universe, I get it. You want me to know that sometimes there are things I can’t control. You want to test me? You want to see if I can juggle dating someone while trying to maintain a heathy lifestyle and habits?

Bring it.