Having recently been laid off, having more time on my hands, and with spring sprung and creeping into summer the Seal and I have been outside, out and about, for most of our day, more than not.
This morning the Seal and I went for a long walk, like we do. The lilacs are fully bloomed and just beginning to drop. The Seal and I both love to smell them in huge, dramatic inhales and stop frequently to do so. The tulips are all spent, give or take a few late bloomers, the blue bells are standing and tired, the daffodils are weeks gone and the rhododendron are all tightly budded, ready to explode at any given moment . The cherry blossoms make it look like it snowed pink last night, but only in very particular patches.
On our walk this morning the Seal had a blossom stick to the top of her nose and after shaking her head a few times with no relief she just walked on, crossing her eyes every once in a while to focus on it. I thought it looked cute and springy and let the decoration stay until it finally fell several blocks later.
There is this older woman, 75 maybe, that lives in the neighborhood. Margaret is her name. She is always out walking with her dog. Always. It is almost impossible to stray more than a few blocks from home without passing by her. I use to catch her at my bus stop, sitting outside the bagel shop, sipping coffee and giving every other bite of her bagel to Thomas, her rolly polly little wiener dog.
Thomas has several outfits, depending on the weather, of course. He mostly sports either his blue sweater for cold, dry days or a little yellow raincoat for the rainy days. If my jacket style is similar to what Thomas is wearing I know I have properly prepared. She and I have always said hello in passing. Some days are chattier than other, like during the election, she would go on and on about how its “plenty time to let this Obama kid get going and get things going right for a change!” She is clearly quite intelligent, well spoken, progressive and very sweet and it always cracks a smile onto my face when I see her and her little fat dog walking around together.
I haven’t seen Margaret or Thomas around in months and I have thought about this a lot. I have been curious and worried with obvious suspicions but haven’t figured out how to go about finding anything out.
So, the Seal and i were out this morning, for a nice long stroll when all of a sudden, a block and a half a head of us i saw what appeared to be an older person walking what appeared to be Thomas in his little blue sweater.They were crossing the street and turning a corner and I had seconds before they would be out of site so I yelled, “That isn’t Thomas by any chance, is it?” as I began to jog towards them. A voice, not Margaret’s, said back, “This little weeny here? Ya, thats him. Who’s askin?”
My stomach sank a bit as I was jogging over, to find out about Margaret. As I got closer I could see this old man, clearly not Margaret. He had slicked back white hair, snow-white side burns, the most typical gray old-man-pants with the most typical brown leather old man shoes, a green button down collared shirt with a big blue postal jacket, a tough-guy posture, leaned up against a fence, holding the leash of that fat little rolly polly wiener dog, Thomas, that the Seal and I were oh so happy to see.
“Hi there,” I said. “My name is Jesse. Sorry to chase you down a street but I just haven’t seen Thomas or Margaret in some time.” And then I just went for it, “Is Margaret ok?”
And as soon as this old man opened his mouth and said, “Damn near died I tell you. Goddamn doctors are only human but if I hadn’t raised em’ some hell over there, well then, who knows. Nearly killed her liver with some goddamn medicine that she didn’t even need, I tell you what, I’ve had it with those damn doctors. Think they’re god but dumb as bricks, some of ’em” I realized that this old man was an old woman. This old man was Margaret’s partner.
I smiled big and said, “But she is ok. Man, that is great to hear.”
“Of course she’s ok. They all think she’s just this sweet old lady. Well, that’s cause she is. But I ain’t.” and she laughed big, holding her belly.
We talked for a while, well she did the talking, like a grumpy old man, complaining on and on about everything from how the damned winter killed all the rosemary around here: “In all my life of living here, when in the hell have I ever had to pay for rosemary at the store? Now I’m buying the stuff from California. Damn snow took ’em all out.” To complaining about the roundabouts at the end of all of our streets: “If your car is too big for ya, well, shame on you for it. But if it ain’t, cause you need it, like my 4×4 pickup truck, well, now, you try to get that son of a bitch around that damn circle. Try it. Gonna run up the side every time, so what good is that? Don’t slow me down none either, just pisses me off.”
I stood there listening, agreeing with everything regardless, and marveled at what an amazingly beautiful and masculine person Margaret’s partner was (I never got her name but she mentioned that they had lived in their house for more than 30 years together). And how relieved I was that Margaret was ok. And how happy I was that she had someone looking after her, taking care of her. How lucky I am to be right where I am, right now.
We said goodbye and as the Seal and I walked off I heard, “Come on, you little weeny. Let’s go now.” A few seconds later I turned around and saw Margaret’s partner bent over, picking one of the last tulips standing and I realized that bringing your girl a flower never gets old.