Isabella pulls on her leash, the same walk we take every morning. Down the sidewalk, across the street, through the parking lot of the neighboring restaurant. It's closed, but even at 3 AM, there's music coming from within--Louis Prima and Keely Smith, That Old Black Magic. We stop for a minute, Isabella's nose snuffling the ground, me listening to the music.
I try to remember.
My ex-wife loved Louis Prima. This song makes me think of her, but only in the abstract. When I try to conjure details of our time together, there's often nothing there. I remember, for instance, her love of Prima, and I remember buying her a documentary about him, and that we watched it together. I know we did that, but I don't remember how it felt.
She and I still talk, usually once a week, and we remain as close as two people who profoundly hurt each other can possibly be. She fills me in on the broad details of her life, and I do the same. On occasions, these conversations spark a certain detail, a shared inside joke, a memory only the two of us would share.
Mostly, though, I don't recall specifics. When I think of our time together, mostly what comes to mind is the anxiety, the sense that it was all somehow going to end. I can't even remember the no doubt terrible arguments and incidents that produced this mindset, just the general feeling, the state of flux.
The wind picks up, frustrating Isabella. The breeze carries so many different scents, too many for her to pick out. She skitters about, wanting to follow her nose in all directions at once.
I pull on her leash, leading her back home. My life with Janie is different from the life I once led, different from anything I ever imagined. For maybe the first time in my adult life, I've learned to accept things as they come, and I finally know contentment. Isabella's pace quickens as we approach the house, and she bounds up the steps happily. Because, you know, we're home.