I went to pick up my dogs when I'd been home for a week. It had been nearly a year since I dropped them at the kennel where they lived and I was full of anxiety, worried that they wouldn't be as excited to see me as I was to see them. That thought woke me up in the middle of the night and I rolled around for an hour, the what-if's taking a whack at my jellylegs, all sorts of middle-of-the-night angst spilling over.
Intellectually, I knew this was all part of the emotional roller coaster I find myself on these days. My emotions, however, were in overdrive and not interested in reason. I was happy reading a book and then incredibly sad in a room full of people, happy at breakfast or on a deck overlooking a river, and then sad driving down a familiar road alone. It was a strange thing, re-entry. I fought against dropping into old, bad habits and spending time alone, my head under a pillow. I said yes to almost every invitation in an effort to stay connected, to keep my head above water.
Anni and Mischa were so different than I expected, greeting me with a subdued and gentle hello. They were both shaken by the change, alternately excited and fearful. Mischa has developed a barking habit and is significantly whiter around her eyes; Anneke is less likely to bark than before and responds to commands more willingly. They were so, so loved. I cried when I saw them, and the kennel staff cried when we left. There's no way to adequately thank the women who cared for my girls while I was away, but I will find some way to show my deep appreciation.
I didn't want to be here, but I didn't want to be anywhere else, either. I wanted to be on the open road with a vague, far away destination in mind. I wanted to be in motion and I felt stuck. I needed a walk but was unable or unwilling to accomplish that more than twice since returning home. My dogs forced the issue; I was simultaneously grateful and annoyed at the prospect of twice-daily walks again. In the end, the walks have been an anchor that held me steady through a turbulent return. We compromised with a 10-minute jaunt through the lower fields in the early morning and then a long walk through neighborhoods in the evening. I'm grateful for these little old ladies who follow me everywhere and love me without reservation.