Showering with Dogs in Westport, MA=


Yesterday was a wonder—rain, rain, rain.  I love the rain, the way the storm clouds hold the light and shift it in ways that make the greys glow.  After all day of rain, around five the rain stopped.  I took the dogs on the walk down to the public beach—five minutes away.  I had on several layers of clothes--it was chilly and I'd put on one of my skirts and two shirts and a sweater, two long scarves, yoga pants and my big black work boots-- I'm sure I looked like a wandering old eccentric woman by the sea. The French Lt's Woman grown old and lame.  
  I'd not been able to find a small plastic bag for the dogs' poop so I'd taken along a large kitchen garbage bag.  
 A few minutes into the walk I decided I might as well pick up a few of the plastic bottles on the side of the black-topped road that leads to the beach, the curve of the Buzzard's Bay in Westport, MA.  I had a bag and all.  
 There is a lovely nature sanctuary on both sides of the road for as far as the eye can see. but there are also signs saying No Pets.   At the bay there is a rocky beach, an awesome vista, though the area is strewn rather badly with plastic, which I'd noted with some dismay the day before.  I honestly wasn't on a massive clean-up mission, just thinking I'd pick up a few pieces of plastic, save a few dolphins.  But once I started this clean-up, I couldn't stop.  Some of this behavior has to do with a medication I take for MS; it makes me be somewhat compulsive about cleaning--something that had never really been my thing.
After about fifteen minutes, I had a a full bag that was surprisingly heavy.  For some reason there are no garbage cans anywhere up and down the beach.  So I was stuck lugging this bag down the road, ruining my fantasy of being the French Lt's woman.  
I was a half hour away from the cottage when it began to rain, and rain in a way that kind of hurts when it peppers your face—and to my surprise Lola was tapping into her dachshund DNA and got feistier the wetter she got.    But Amos, the small schnauzer terrier, hates to get his feet wet, much less get rained on. He was goose-stepping his way back to the cottage when suddenly they both became aware of the very large seagulls clustered around the deserted beach.  Some of them were as large as Amos. We were getting soaked, completely, and the bag seemed ridiculously heavy, and I felt compelled to pick up just one more can, . . . . .then one more, and I could barely see because the rain was in my eyes, and my wet hair became plastered to my face.
A few people drove by, grinned and waved.  
 All three of us were practically blown back to the cottage.  I stood dripping, with a bag full of trash, with two dripping dogs at the door to the tidy, clean cottage. I could smell us--we smelled fishy.  Fish mixed with wet dog.  I was like a damn wild dachshund myself, laughing and stripping off layers of wet clothes on the porch and still hauling my bag of beer cans and small plastic vodka bottles and Rite-Aid plastic bags and one high top red tennis shoe.  
I knew I had to shower one dog after another and that it was going to be an ordeal.  Amos was first because I knew he was going to hurriedly leap on the furniture and burrow.  I was naked, cold and running after Amos in the cottage, which is only yards from the other houses--everyone can see into everyone's place.  
Amos was not happy. We showered  in the small shower stall; I held him--actually he was sort of holding me with his front legs wrapped around my neck.  After I toweled him down, I went to look for Lola, who was hiding.  I had to drag her out from behind a chair, picked her up (piglet that she is) and then went back in for the next shower.  
 I only brought two towels--now those are dog towels.  I'd brought two heating pads which  both dogs curled up on after their showers.  From there they looked up at me with expressions I'd not seen before; there were looks of total disbelief --as in Who have you turned into?  Subjecting us to such indignity, and laughing about it. Lola's eyes were bloodshot. Then Amos turned his back toward me. 
 I tried hard to make it up to them:   I fed them cheddar cheese and Vienna sausages--which I'd bought at the market because when my dad took us to the ocean, which he did often, he always ate Vienna sausages and what he called "rat cheese."  
After two hours they still weren't having anything to do with me. 
 I was sad that they didn't realize I had an hour of being the happiest I've been in years.  Not hyperbole, I swear.
The rain.  The rain. The two showers.  I remembered my last week's horoscope: there will be lots of water in your near future.
The rain washed away the taint of yesterday's sadness.  The grief had been leaden, had weighed me down like the wet clothes I'd shed on the porch.  
The day before I'd made a road trip to Boston to meet with a neurologist in order to get in a study.
The traffic all the way to Boston had been insane.  I assumed I'd be lost and then late for the appointment so I was super stressed.  I didn't get lost, except in my own head, which made my right leg go weak.  I walked like Chester from Gunsmoke the four blocks to the building in downtown Boston..
The night before and in the predawn morning in Westport, I'd sifted through all my medical history papers to get a timeline in my mind about the MS for the appointment.   
At such times, I become my diagnosis.  I become a person who takes lots of medications; I'm a person who has papers from Mayo Clinic that read:  Diagnosis: Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.  I still can't believe it.  I hate the big black print.  
I'd spoken to the doctor a week before, and he believed I'd be a perfect candidate for his research study.  After filling out a ten-page questionnaire, I was taken by the perky resident to see the neurologist.  We hadn't talked for very long when he looked at the list of medications I take.  He had been so professional, so staid, and suddenly this man became a frustrated regular human being who threw his hands up in the air and said, "That's it.  You can't be in the study,"
 I burst into tears.
Then he told me I could be his regular patient, told me to make an app't and he would squeeze me in, and apologized for not thinking to ask me about the meds before I made the drive.  For some stupid reason that has gnawed at me ever since I APOLOGIZED to him.  For not being a suitable candidate for his fucking study.  We shook hands and I went out into the crazy cacophony of car horns.  Those damn Bostonians honk, honk, honk, sit on their horns.  Awful awful behavior, I thought, shaking my head, feeling defeated.  I stood at a curb, waiting for the WALK sign when a beautiful black woman with braided hair said to me in a lilting Caribbean accent--:Are you ok? You are standing in a puddle."  I looked down, and I was ankle deep in a puddle. I laughed and she laughed and then we both complained about the honking.  She asked about MY accent, asked, as we crossed the street in the rain, why I moved from the South to New England.  I told her because I couldn't take the heat of Houston. I told her I had recently been diagnosed with MS.  All of this exchange took place as we made our way across the boulevard.  Oh, she said, my colleague has MS.  She gets very sick when she gets hot, she said.  
When we reached the other side, she looked at me and said, You take care now, girl.
 This was really something.  Something good, a gift, a halting of the horns in my mind.  A sense of peace came over me as we parted at the corner of Bowdoin and Cambridge, 
I remembered her when the rain stopped again in Westport, an hour after the walk and the dog baths.  The sunset began--because for the first time in two days there was sun-- and damn if those dogs didn't decide they wanted another outing.  I couldn't believe it.  This time we went a short distance, but they spotted three rabbits.  All was forgiven.  All was good.