Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tell you a story

Dalewithoutsancha here.  I thought I might co-opt this space and ramble about Sancha for a while.

When I was a kid, there were various adult characteristics that I worried about never being able to acquire. How did grown-ups live without sucking their thumbs? Would I be the only grown-up who still sucked her thumb as she drove, or attended board meetings, and did other grown-up things? Crying was another one: I never saw grown-ups cry. How would I learn not to cry when I was sad or angry? Also handwriting. I worried I would always have inconsistent spacing between words and trouble keeping a straight line.

Most of these things resolved themselves on their own. The thumb-sucking "cure" was fairly traumatic, but the other transitions just happened gradually, without me noticing. But one thing that never changed, no matter how old I have grown, is loving to be told stories. Not new, exciting adventure stories, but the same stories, over and over again, usually of events  that I was present for to begin with. The responsibility of telling...and retelling and retelling these stories has fallen entirely on the shoulders of my mother. When I was littler, I mostly enjoyed hearing stories about myself. The little narrative narcissist me worried about becoming a mom and having to be the tell-er and not the tell-ee. I felt bad that there was nobody to incessantly tell my mother stories about her ....but not bad enough to offer to tell any. Anyway. I don't know exactly when it shifted, but for probably the last 10 years, I have shifted to wanting to hear over and over the stories of my pets. I call my mom 3000 miles away, we chat about adult things, and 17th century literature things, and then my inner 4 year old emerges and I ask her to tell me again the story about when it briefly appeared that her best friend's golden retriever had eaten MacBeth, or the day we first saw Sola in the shelter, or how the cat would flip out whenever my mother put a sweater on Sancha. Part of the ritual is that my mother is a terrible story-teller, and so I intervene and correct and embellish as much as I listen. (And now as I write this...I'm realizing that maybe I made that growing-up transition more than I realized. Insofar as my pets are the closest I've had to kids, and I usually end up telling most of the stories. But it's still me who demands the telling. Sancha never seemed particularly interested in hearing about the cat's reaction to her sweaters.)

Why am I going into all this pop self-psychology?

Since Sancha died, all I want to do is be told stories about her, and tell stories about her. I have so many, and every object in my house and around my neighborhood reminds me of something we did together. Never momentous things, just moments. One of the reasons she means so much to me, and her loss is so hard, is because we were the only two peas in our pod: but this also means that most of our moments were experienced by just the two of us. With the exception of a few disastrous weeks of boyfriend-cohabitation shortly after I adopted her, it's been just the two of us. Most of the people we interacted with as a pair were other dog people, and our relationships were of the dog-park-casual kind. I never knew their last names, and generally forgot their first names (we were all happy to be known as Fluffy's Mom and Schnitzel's Dad.) So all this means that there aren't very many people who can tell me Sancha stories. And while everyone is being wonderful, I can't really expect them to be too interested or emotionally invested in my Sancha memoirs. But it's all I want to talk about, and think about. And unlike most of my grief impulses, it seems healthy and it makes me genuinely feel better.

So this blog was originally named Sanchaanddale, but the authorial ratio of Sancha: Dale has always been very high. I figure that, now that Sancha is gone, I could step in and hold up my end, and use this space to tell stories of Sancha. The impressions that don't even reach the threshold for stories. I know I could just do this in a journal. But I like to think that someone someday might stumble across this page due to a typo and discover the most wonderful dog ever.

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