After breakfast, the dog and I play in the garden. He brings me the two toys he has here with him, a tennis ball and a stick, and we run and chase each other around the pool, trying our best not to fall in. The dog knows my routines, he knows my movements and what I’m going to do next, even before I do sometimes. He is intent on keeping near me, but not so near that it’s smothering. He’s not a lap dog, and never tries to sleep next to me or lay on my when I’m relaxing on the sofa.
The dog was with me in Italy before we departed. He was with me when I left a packet of thoughts and frustrations on top of the mountain and he was with me on the last days I was in the Mediterranean, swimming as far out as I could go. He watched from the shore, alert to my movements and actions in the sea. He was with me the last days in Venice as I said goodbye and boarded a boat to the airport. The small sachets of life I’ve left in these places, I hope that he will be able to find with me in the future. Both of us a little less lively, a little older, but they are there for us both. I’m sure his dog sense will be that he’s been there before. For me, it’s a sense of remembering where I’ve been and why I left, where I’m headed.
Once, when I was living in Australia, I went with my friend Nick for a drink down by the quay. As Nick is a classic northern Englishman, he wanted to split a bottle of wine. The sun was hard and sharp and it was hot, but I agreed. We sat and watched the people along the quay in their flip flops and shorts and he recounted to me his issues with his then partner, who was Swiss, and their two children, and their decision to move back to Europe. I myself was contemplating going back to the US, because I had failed to find a job to secure a long term visa, I didn’t want to overstay, but I also didn’t want to go back. I was thinking of taking the long way around to home, Nick agreed with me that was the best idea. We finished the bottle of wine and both agreed to see each other again one day before we each left, but that didn’t happen. And now, the thoughts of that last drink on the quay in Sydney, we both had decisions to make that took us far from the adopted home that we had both found in Australia.