One of the greatest things I love about walking Leila is the interaction she creates with fellow pedestrians. She’s a magnet for attention.
Two of my most favourite interactions to date were in NZ…both involving school-aged children (gosh, those Kiwi boys’ charm and character kick in at a young age!):
1. While walking on a boardwalk through a preservation area, we encountered two young brothers (ages 8 and 10), whose father was coaching a nearby cricket game. They insisted on accompanying me the rest of our walk (and holding Leila’s leash), all the while chattering away about their young lives, having to move from Auckland to Wellington and being forced to give up their own dog (*insert heart breaking here*). I had not been having the best day up until that point, but having those two completely enamoured boys keeping me company, helping out with Leila and providing the best conversation I had had all day absolutely boosted my spirits in a way that they’ll never understand.
2. Towards the end of a bike ride with Leila, I crossed the street near my house – guiding my bike with one hand, Leila’s leash in the other. I passed a group of uniformed school boys, about 10 years old, when one of them broke from the conversation and said “I need a woman like that. She has a bike AND a dog!”. It was obvious that he hadn’t intended it for my ears, so I feigned deafness and continued toward home, where I laughed for days.
Tonight, Leila and I meandered through our neighbourhood and there were even more people than usual out enjoying the cool evening weather. I was approached by several groups of children asking, “Excuse me, can I please pet your dog?” (I need to break here for a second to say, I LOVE it when kids ask if they can pet Leila, instead of charging at her. As much as I trust her around kids, I believe that all kid-meet-dog scenarios should be controlled interactions. So, well done, dog-savvy parents!). Anyway, there were two sisters in particular that captured my attention (and my heart!).
They were fraternal twins, but when they first approached us, I thought one was a few years older. They didn’t look anything alike – one was tall, lanky, with thin features and short, brown hair. The other, more cherub-like, was short and with long, blonde hair. They were riding too-big bikes and wearing too-big helmets. They told me they were adopted and had a big family, with several other kids and a plethora of exotic pets. The bikes and helmets were their older brothers’. The brown-haired one told me her sister was initially chosen for adoption, but that the couple then talked to her too and decided to adopt both of them and I said contritely, “Oh that’s so nice that you two could stay together”. With a look of solemnity, she said “We had to. We can’t be apart. We can’t even go to sleep if we’re not together”.
I thought of my sister, 12,000 km away. We’re 20-some years older than these two, and we may not be twins, but we possess that same strong sister-bond. Sometimes I feel ridiculous that at this age, I have extreme mopey days because we’re so far apart. We Skype and text and talk on the phone whenever we can, but I look forward to the day when we’re in the same country. Hell, even on the same continent.
I’m aware that this time last year, I was living with my sister and lamenting over the fact that my boyfriend and I were on opposite sides of the globe. It’s a tricky business, long distance relationships.
Why can’t everyone I love just live in the same place?!