So much goes in circles. The way one black fur coat sheds into another, and who knows if the dog underneath really changes. I know that I was born with one eye closed, and Phantom died with one eye open. I know the way the way I held her close to my chest for sixteen years is the same instinct that drew me into the arms my parents as a baby.
One of my favorite early memories is of bringing Phantom to my second grade classroom. She was my early birthday present that year, and Mrs. Katz said I could bring her in for show and tell. Of the visit, I remember joy, pride, the knowledge that she was my one precious being. Before anyone told me I should look for a soulmate, I knew I had one. Her name was difficult, it required a quest. I looked into her eyes, and over and over again, I searched through her movements, her tiny legs trodding the ground. My neighbor friends suggested Bubbles, Lowbelly, Black Beauty. I tried the names on her but none of them fit. Who was she?
One day, I played my Phantom of the Opera cassette tape. I’d been to the opera in Boston with my mom earlier that year, and I kept the program under my bed. I understood some of the story, but it was the music that I truly loved. The way the notes went up and down like a bird swooping over a city skyline, the White Mountains, waves rolling and crashing on the Maine coast. She snuggled up to me on the couch and we listened. This was my little Phantom.
Pepper and I went for a hike yesterday morning in the fresh powder. 6 inches was just enough to cover up all the brown patches that appeared in last week’s thaw. I’m not entirely sure where we ended up, but we made it to round Pond and then explored the red trail running down the hillside toward the cross country ski trails at Gunstock. After that, it was time to have fun with the Hermes 3000 typewriter sitting on my desk.
I can always rely on the sound of the bells jingling from her collar as we run the trail, and later, when I get tired and stop, only the sound of her panting as she sits 10 feet ahead, waiting for me to run again.
Lake Mills, Wisconsin