I had the honor recently of reading an excerpt from a creative nonfiction story that was published in a local literary journal, the Thunderbird Review. The event took place at the Fon du Lac Tribal and Community College in Cloquet, Minnesota, and the story is called “An Evening Dog Walk.” It’s a poignant tale of a neighborhood dog walk and dating at 50.
Here’s what I read:
We lived a block and a half away from each other in a northern Minnesota town on the shores of Lake Superior.
When I first saw him in my old neighborhood, he was lying on the kitchen floor of his home, puttering with a repair under the sink. I spoke with his wife, a freelance graphic designer, about a publication project I had for her.
From differing heights, he and I exchanged hellos, and that was it.
About five years ago, we met for the second time in our new neighborhood. I was walking my dog past his house, which was a block and a half away from mine again. His house was recently built, and I had been wondering who lived in the impressive structure. While he was taking envelopes out of his mailbox, I reintroduced myself.
During the next five minutes, he spilled his woes to me: his wife had died from some awful form of cancer, a relative died yesterday, he was experiencing mechanical failures at home, and he had just recovered from the flu.
Stunned by his outpouring, I wished him well, and my dog and I continued our walk.
About a year later, I turned around in my church pew and he was sitting behind me. I reintroduced myself. His sparkling blue eyes and Joe Biden smile told me he was doing better.
He asked me to stay for coffee after the service, and our friendship began. He admitted he didn’t remember our previous encounter because he had been so upset. But he was excited to meet someone who knew his former wife and had lived in both of his neighborhoods.
It wasn’t long before we started dating. Even though he was 14 years older, we shared similar philosophies, the same neighborhood, and he loved my dog – a golden doodle too friendly for his own good.
I felt I could trust him. I felt the stomach butterflies.
Kissing didn’t come easy for him. I was the first woman he had kissed since his wife died. We were on my back porch after a dog walk and I could tell he wanted to kiss me, but after some fumbling, he ended up kissing my cheek instead. We joked about it the next time we met, and on his subsequent try, he hit the lip bullseye.
He took me flying in his small private plane, showed off the audio system in the living room of his comfortable home – a home that still contained his deceased wife’s decorating touches in every room – and he solicited my help in fixing his leaky sailboat. He even kept up with me hiking and biking around the neighborhood.
As a twice-divorcée struggling to recapture some sense of normalcy and connection, he was just what I needed. And he seemed happy to have someone to do things with once again . . . .
If you’d like to find out what happened in the rest of the story, please support the journal and purchase a copy for $5. You can find info on how to do that here.