Wavering on Wyatt

Being Married. It’s a subtle change. Like getting a haircut and forgetting you look a little different until you glimpse a glance of your new look swishing past in a mirror, and you feel a little ping of excitement at the new you. Since I’ve felt my whole life that I was made to share it with someone, living a half-shared life feels pretty natural to me. Luke scoots around on his hands and knees sliding dog hair out from alongside the baseboards while I pour hot water into the French press and my tall teacup. I look at him and I feel lucky, so I say to him, “When I look at you, I feel lucky.” He calls me his wife, and that's still a little wierd.

 

Boxes are stacked in every doorway and on every flat surface—serving bowls and silverware, salad bowls and wine glasses, towels and trinkets—the things you receive when you have a wedding. My parents brought us a basket of booty they’ve been collecting for months—books on cooking fish, seafood platters, placemats, a little treasure of a letter stuck between sets of chopsticks. Luke’s parents and brothers handed pizza around the room and tore shiny ribbons away from three-by-three foot packages while we read little notes from our friends like Dr. Savory (a dentist) who wrote that “every good relationship has its foundation in proper oral hygiene,” and whose daughter reminded us that “the key to a good life is a leisurely breakfast.”

 

This morning, our little house has the feel of leftover Christmas with its shredded paper and sharp edges as I shuffle my way to the back door to let out Quincy and Wyatt, the new dog we can’t decide if we’re going to keep. He’s somewhere around 10 months old, a border collie/Australian Shepherd mix, with white fur, big brown spots, and eyes a cornflower, crystal blue. He’s not a bad dog, just a new thing, and I think I’m hesitant about him because I just want the peace of mind to enjoy things like my new husband and our nice knife set and the books and books that have been waiting for me for the last eleven months.

 

This morning the snow is eight inches deep when both dogs highstep into the stuff, and I don’t realize as I hold out my palm to catch a few flakes spinning down that the gate is open out to the street. Wyatt, a low-scurrying cattle dog who doesn’t have the speed of walking built into his genes, bounces out past the chain link fence, and stops to look at me like he’s waiting for some direction. Come here, I say, and he stays. You better live up to your name, I tell him, then he pushes up some snow with his nose, and comes trotting back.

 

I can sense he’ll be loyal if we just let him, and he’ll stop peeing in the corner behind the yellow chair if we have the patience to teach him. Most of the time I feel like I do until he gets muddy and puts his paws on my clean jeans and then I feel like he’s ruining my life. When I lay on the couch with a book, he points his bright blue eyes up at me with a look that says please keep me, and he sleeps under the bed with his nose sticking out, which makes my heart hurt a little, so I guess we probably will.

 

We took both dogs to the park yesterday and sprinted around in the falling snow. Wyatt is so excited to not be at the pound, he can’t help himself but pull so hard he starts hacking up. Poor Quincy has a little extra padding around his orange hips and huffs and puffs the whole way, lagging like an old emphysemic man even though he’s only six. There are so many perfect people in this neighborhood with their perfect dogs, sleek black labs and shiny golden retrievers, who leave slack on the leash and heel when that weird command is called. Wyatt fits in our hodgepodge house stocked with wild game and Byzantine icons and salvaged goods, and he reminds me, when we let him off leash and he’s so excited that his legs slip out from under him as we’re crossing the street, that life is inclined towards the unwieldy, not the ordered.

 

Mostly I’m leaning towards keeping Wyatt because when we saw him at the pound, Luke, who longs for space in the same way as this silly little dog, said, “I’ve been waiting to have someone like him my whole life,” and I know how that feels.