I took the empty seat on the faded bench. The cacophony of mechanical brushes annoyed me but I wanted the fresh air. Even at a car wash, outside air on a sunny day feels good. There were people standing up with arms folded, leaning on rickety railing, others seated around a picnic table; all awkwardly quiet, like statues waiting for their keys to shake them back to life.
While scrolling through emails on my phone, a woman filled the empty place on the bench next to me. Her Pug plopped his squishy face down on the concrete between his paws in resignation. I expected him to sniff my feet, wait for my hand to swipe his flat head, something.
“He’s such a good dog,” I said to her. She was holding his red leash against her chest. The yellow armholes of her tank top rose above her bra straps, the color vibrant against her crimson lipstick.
“He’s a working dog,” she said, “he goes with me everywhere. He’s even been on tv. He’s traveled all over Europe, eaten with me at the finest restaurants in Paris, he stood next to me when I saw the Mona Lisa. You know it’s not as big as you think it is.”
She held up her hands showing me the approximate size of the frame, the leash handle dangling around her thumb.
I didn’t know the Mona Lisa was that small.
I didn’t know Pugs were working dogs. Or they cared about seeing Stonehenge.
She said she has all kinds of health problems and her dog, Remy, barks when he knows something is wrong. “He just knows,” she said, “but he doesn’t like black dogs for some reason, they get him riled up.”
I was glad no one with a black Lab needed their car washed.
The dog saw Europe from the seat of a stroller and Trudy said that everywhere she went people wanted to take Remy’s picture. It wasn’t until someone asked her how long the dog had been crippled that she realized why they were taking his photograph. They felt sorry for him. Or maybe they just thought it was strange to see a dog in a stroller.
I told her that I had actually seen quite a few dogs in strollers a couple weeks ago in England. And then I pulled out my phone and took Remy’s photo.
“What did you think of England,” she said, scrunching up her nose.
“I love it,” I told her, “it feels like home away from home to me.”
Her hands went up in the air like she was shooing flies. “Two weeks was enough for me in England, but my daughter-in-law lives there, maybe that’s why I don’t like it.”
Well, what do you say to that?
“I think you’re brave,” I told her. “Travelling all over Europe and planning your next excursion with all those health problems.”
She told me her husband died in January and she thought she might as well go while she has the time and means. “If I die on the plane, I’ll die knowing I lived the life of a queen,” she said smiling, “I just hope Remy doesn’t go before I do. I’m not sure how I’ll make it without him.”
I counted on my fingers, then told her my dog Winston died a year and half ago. I still miss him.
When I crawled back into my car, the air conditioning blowing wildly from all the knobs being turned crazy with wet rags, the radio station blared country music. I put the gear shift in drive and left the twang on. And realized that our desires, the things we love, they aren’t random or common. They’re God-given. For such as time as this.
Embracing who you are, the way God made you, it’s worship.
May your weekend be full of knowing that you don’t have to agree in order to love someone, or be loved by them. Remember that the way you live your life is an inspiration to more than just your best friend. You don’t have to follow the crowd to realize your dreams. God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise.
Happy Sabbath Friends!
For some inspired reading by those who embraced who they are this week:
Worst End of School Year Mom Ever by Jen Hatmaker – if you haven’t read this yet, you may be the only one. Prepare to laugh your head off.
On Bears Named Bob Costas and Other News of the Week by Ashley Larkin – she referred to this as a brain dump. I call it funny, honest, and brilliant.
All the Missing Pieces by Christie Purifoy – She is quickly becoming one of my new-to-me favorite writers. I feel like she is eavesdropping on my life every time I read her.
Girlfriend is Better by Zena – her blog is new to me and I was captivated by the first thing I read. This is what she says in her bio: “my oldest child has down syndrome and her life across the dinner table reminds me every night that god chooses the weak things of the world to shame the wise.” I thought it interesting that this is the scripture verse God gave me for the weekend. Yes, he does speak, often in quiet echoes.
How to Fall in Love. Again. By Lisa Jo Baker – she has me nodding and thinking about my marriage, in a good way.