50 lbs or less

The perfect traveling outfit is comfortable and says don't mess with me or I will eat your face.

The perfect traveling outfit is comfortable and says don’t mess with me or I will eat your face.

 

Packed

 

-for JW

 

Toothbrush. Pajamas. Chargers

for phone and computer. Check.

Check. Check and check. Ah! Hairbrush!

How helpful of the airlines to declare

our essentials weighed 50lbs or less–

so now I can decide that it’s these cowboy boots,

and these cowboy boots but not those cowboy boots,

my knitting project, only three books on the history of photography–

this suitcase has roller wheels and expanding pockets–nail polish

tucked inside my socks, three pairs

of jeans, 4 black t-shirts because they go

with everything. My curling iron,

my straightening iron, my travel iron,

a pair of running shoes, which means

running clothes and running socks which means

my water bottle which means

I have to drink it all before security–what am I forgetting?

my contacts and solution, face cream–my god

how did the bathroom become this sargasso of flammable liquids and gels?

Can I even get this zipped? –Alarm clock crammed inside your sneaker

and you are done.

Packed.

All that’s left is the drive to the airport, those last moments when

you ride through your city of origin in a kind of relief,

if you’ve forgotten something,

it’s too late to do anything about it–here it is, the moment you let go

of everything behind you and put your heart forward,

confident in the knowledge

no matter what you’re facing

you have eight pairs of underwear

you can wash and beat on a rock ‘til the end of days.

 

–Arlitia Jones

Dec. 2, 2013

Old Dog and a Bad Knee

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The Jo Dog in her winter shoes.

My dog and I used to race each other on the road in front of the house. One of us always cheated.

It was me. I cheated. Every time.

It’s because one of us always won.

That was not me. Not once.

We’d walk to the end of the driveway and start our run from there. Except she is a dog and constantly distracted by some smell. She would wander off into the ditch to check on who’d passed through the culvert and it was then, when she wasn’t looking, I’d take off like a fastball thrown by a girl-arm–in other words–for all I was worth. Our neighbor’s mailbox was the finish line. She’d catch on and tear after me. I’d make it about 30 yards before she caught me, passed me, loping along with her huge wolf grin and squinty eyes, ear flaps flying in the wind. She beat me every time.

Those were our glory days. To be honest, my glory days were never that glorious. I’ve never been a fast runner and it’s never been a problem for The Jo Dog to keep up. Plenty of time for her to stop and sniff. She used to run circles around me. There. I admitted it.

We’ve both slowed down since then, and a couple of years ago I retired The Jo from running with me, altogether. It was a forced retirement, I can assure you. Now when I tie on my shoes and head for the door, she gives me the big eyes and flying-nun ears. Every cell in her body poised to spring to the door when I tell her “come on.” And when I don’t say the words… oh god, I can’t even bear to look at her.

I love running with my dog. My dog lives to run with me. Seriously, it’s the reason she exists on the planet. That, and to consume yummie chummies. Ask her. I hate that she’s too old (13) to go anymore. But today was a beautiful day. So I caved. I told her the magic words: “come on.”

Neither poets nor scientists have ever recorded the full measure of such joy as that which exists in the heart of dog that gets to go.

We went to the nearby Junior High and I galloped my little donkey gait around the track, she stayed in the center of the grass wandering back and forth, keeping her eye on me, cutting across the middle to meet up with me. It was kinda like how we used to be. But now I run circles around her.

Afterwards, my knee hurt. My knee always hurts. When I bend it. When I don’t bend it. When I rub it. When I don’t rub it. When I look it and call it stupid. It hurts. Feels great when I run. Hurts when I stop. Weird.

I’ve tried to think what I did to it, some huge catastrophic event that has damaged the works, bike accident, bad fall taking a ski jump, (ha), ice pick through the kneecap. I don’t really remember any of these things happening. I watched my dog do her best stiff-legged run of pure happiness today and realized that the only thing wrong with my knee is the catastrophe of circling the sun 48 times.

We’re getting old. The way things work, she’ll probably go down before me. But not gently. We both have aches and cranky joints. We both just want to run for as long as we can.

We didn’t race each other today. Those days are long gone. But the fattened-up September sun did shine on us, made our shadows long and slender and for at least a couple of miles today we were a little bit glorious.

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Me and The Jo–in our glory days.

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