Last spring, The Child and I fostered a rescued dog, the Feisty Girl, whose energy was boundless, especially when there were cats to be chased. Eventually, she was adopted, into a home that could satisfy her need for constant activity and attention. Her Adopter had lost both his home and his dog in a divorce, and was looking for a full-time, devoted companion that could tolerate his current living situation: a tugboat.
Once Feisty Girl settled in, The Adopter invited us to go boating with him, so The Child, the Red Dog, and I spent a long July day boating out to Blake Island State Park, where we hiked along the beach and talked about daughters, dogs, divorces.
The next evening, he sends me a note thanking me, and inviting us for another ride. I reply, I am the one who should be thanking you, and next time, I’ll bring lunch.
You’re on, he says.
In the months that follow, we trade emails from time to time. Once, he tells me about how the Feisty Girl barks with delight on seeing him pack his suitcase; she knows suitcase means road trip, and road trips are fun. Another time, he needs vet records, and though I’ve already sent them to him, I send them again.
When the emails begin, they go on for a bit, with questions about how daughters are doing in school, and jokes about how extravagant things must be in order to be good enough for our dogs.
A December exchange goes from dogs to daughters to the high cost of college, when he remembers our boat trip and suggests we plan another: It’s too cold now, perhaps in March? We ran pretty hard last time but we can go to other locations, might want to do an overnighter if you feel comfortable. We can “Sleep on the hook,” if you’re OK with that.
I have to think about this. I don’t know much about him, or anything about boats, and it nags at me. I word my reply carefully: I don’t think I’d be up for an overnight, just not sure I could handle sleeping on a boat – but for sure another day trip would be great. We had fun last time!
I want to spend another afternoon with him, or even another day; this isn’t the reply I want to give, because I wished he’d asked a different question.
The emails meander on, from college tuition to the state of the stock market.
A few months later, he sends photos of the Feisty Girl and her antics – eating his fork, riding the bow of his dinghy.
But he does not mention the boat ride again.