Chapter 34 - "talking to a dog"
After a less that comely night of pseudo-sleep in that ramshackle of a residence, we forced ourselves out of bed and out of doors to our last day in the glorious State of Montana. I could kind of relate to Billy Joel when he wrote the line, “I’m in a New York state of mind.” I felt like I was in a Montana state of being. Relaxed, almost dormant. Sort of like my Mac in sleep mode. Calm and strangely unwound.
We, once and for all, packed our belongings in the truck. I left my pillow and blanket in the motel room. It was somewhat accidental, somewhat intentional. I know this because initially I realized I had forgotten my bedding when we were about to pull out of the parking lot. (making it accidental) But as I sat there musing about whether to go and get it, I couldn’t bring myself to take 35 seconds and retrieve it. (making it intentional) When your linens are exposes to the things mine had been the last several days, they quickly move into the realm of disposable. When bedclothes aren’t worth more than 35 seconds of time, it’s time to let them give up the ghost, be buried in a dumpster on the outskirts of town, and hauled off to a landfill somewhere out of human sight. I decidedly and gladly offered them up to the fabric gods that morning. I can’t say as I struggled with the decision.
We headed through town toward the garage. I was hoping to see the truck transformed and sitting outside ready to be swapped and driven east. There was no red truck in the parking lot. Maybe it’s in the garage ready to be backed out. I found myself talking to myself in my head. When I participate in schizophrenic self-talk, this usually means my psyche has a strong inclination--maybe obsession would better describe it. I couldn’t wait to be on the road home. Ok, I was dying to go home. I said it.
As we opened the door to the office, it didn’t take long to get the status of the project. As they shared how far they had gotten and what still needed to take place, it became clear that we weren’t going anywhere for quite some time. They were reticent to declare a time when the job would wrap up making my emotions as loose and open-ended as diarrhea.
I won’t bore you with the details of the next 9 hours, namely, because they are as boring as any 9 successive hours I’ve ever lived. I sat around, paced around, played with knickknacks and went back and forth from the lobby to the garage about 745 times. Time was crawling along at a snail's pace. I was tired and restless.
One of the best encounters in that abyss of time was an interaction with a man who stopped in with his dog. He was indigenous to the town and a Montana lifer. We would be talking normally as humans and he would seamlessly involve his dog in our dialogue, making it a trialogue of sorts. I would look at the dog almost wondering if he would comment or inject a snide remark, but he just sat their looking at his deranged owner. Fortunately the owner had learned/taught himself to talk for his dog. It was like ventriloquism in a strange way, only with a live cross-bred mutt. I found myself talking to the dog just to make the trialogue less awkward. “It’s a hot one out there isn’t it, boy!” The dog starred at me as if to say, “I’m a dog, stupid! Don’t let my owner influence you to talk to me like I understand anything you’re saying. I’m a dog. I bark, poop on well manicured lawns, pee on fire hydrants and juniper shrubs, scratch back doors to get out of the rain, eat scraps from the table, and sleep away almost 22 of 24 hours each and every day. The rest of the time I’m following around my dufuss owner who won’t stop talking to me and for me. So If you don’t mind, talk amongst yourselves and quit involving me in your boring conversation as if I care. I don’t. I’m a dog. A hairy, smelling dog.”
Needless to say, the encounter was quite queer. The whole time I just sat there thinking, “I’m actually talking to a guy who thinks his dog is a human.” But it wasn’t surprising; Montana is a place that is so remote and unpopulated that talking to dogs wouldn’t be seen as out of the ordinary. That’s part of what I was going to miss about the place.
He left and was I left alone again to manage my growing restive tension. I would have rather watched paint dry.
Finally, at 7:00pm that night, the truck was done and ready to go. We packed the old truck-bed on the new flatbed and packed it with our belongings. Everything was strapped down tightly. We said our goodbyes and began our 32-hour trip back to Michigan. I wasn’t looking forward to traveling through the night, but like it or not, that was our lot, and we were going to have to bite the bullet and make the best of it.
It felt so good to be moving east. So very good.