Saturday, April 2, 2011

Change is scary, but good



“Please, baby,” I whispered to him as his big brown eyes stared up at me with a look of panic mixed with utter despair. “Please pee for mama.”

I knew the dog was going to panic when I missed the exit for I 5 South, which would’ve taken me to the West Seattle Bridge, and went through town to find Highway 99 instead. Dexter was used to quiet nights with us in our big house on a suburban street, and now his first taste of Seattle was Pioneer Square on a Friday night, a mixture of crazies, cars, drunks and darkness. By the time I found 99, he was trembling and whining. When I pulled into my designated parking spot at our new apartment complex, he was in the middle of an outright canine meltdown.

I tried to coax him out of the car, but he refused to budge. I reached for his leash but he shot me a look that said he’d snap at me if I touched him. Not knowing what else to do, I started taking things up to the new place while I awaited Mr. W’s arrival. I called and explained the situation and he said he’d try and get Dexter out of the car when he got to the apartment.

I looked inside my tiny new home. What had seemed so adventurous and wonderful before was starting to scare me now. It was so small. How were we going to fix 2,000 square feet worth of things in here? How would we get it all up the narrow stairwell? How would we ever adjust to this? Life changes always sound good in your head, but actually following through is the hard part. I was beginning to see why most people simply lived their lives stuck in a rut rather than actually making changes.

“This isn’t going to work,” barked a cranky Mr. W as he traipsed through the door holding the leash of the clearly traumatized dog. “I walked him around for twenty minutes but he wouldn’t pee. He’s an idiot.” I sighed and tried to get Dexter to eat his food or drink some water. He would have none of it. We left him in the apartment to get boxes from the minivan only to hear his shrill barking all the way from the building entrance. Mr. W said a few choice words and then I stayed inside with the dog, holding him as he trembled, while Mr. W made at least twelve trips, arms loaded with stuff, to and from the van. By the time we’d gotten all of it inside, it was 10 PM.

“To hell with making soup and sandwiches,” I said, grabbing my Blackberry and ordering pizza. Unlike Idaho, in Seattle, you can actually get a pizza at 10 PM. And it’s made with local ingredients, fresh and delicious. It’s also expensive, but my frugal thoughts had left with my onset of exhaustion.

While we waited, I took Dexter downstairs again. Again, he refused to pee. I knew he wasn’t used to going on a leash. He’d always refused to go on walks, always waiting until we got home so he could do his business in his own backyard in the privacy of his own home. But that wasn’t an option and for him and may never be an option again. So he would just have to learn. We walked around our block, then the next one. I shivered, cursing myself for leaving my coat upstairs in my haste to get the dog away from my angry husband. It was, of course, raining.

I walked him over to some bushes beneath the balcony of our apartment. Dropping down to his level, I soothed him and whispered that this was going to be home now and that, while I knew it was different and scary, I promised he’d eventually grow to like it and that there would be lots of new people for him to meet and dogs for him to sniff. I told him I was sorry we took him away from home just when he’s hit the beginning of old age for a boxer, but that we’d be much happier and that would mean we’d be better parents to him, too.

It was more than a lecture to my dog… it was a reminder to myself. This was what I had wanted for most of my adult life, and now it was finally happening. Just because the circumstances were far from ideal and the change was scary didn’t mean it wasn’t going to be wonderful.

I finished whispering, scratched Dexter behind his ears, and stood up. He looked up at me, sighed, walked to the end of his leash, squatted, and peed at last. I let loose a string of loud praises followed by a treat as he stared at me incredulously. Then we went upstairs and Mr. W and I ate pizza straight out of the box sitting on the floor of our new place before collapsing onto a futon mattress and passing out in our clothes.

The next morning looked a lot brighter as the sun illuminated our new life. I stepped out onto the balcony and caught a glimpse of the Puget Sound sparkling in the distance. I grinned as I realized that my view would no longer include a Wal Mart and the beach was now just a short walk away. I knew that no matter how much stuff we had to get rid of, no matter how many meltdowns the dog had, no matter how many job interviews we had to sit through with no luck or how long it took us to adjust, we wouldn’t regret our decision. The relocation felt more right than anything had in a long time. It still does. And that’s priceless. 

8 comments:

Stevie said...

Big moves are always so scary, but once you get through the major moving part, the excitement sets in again. Exploring new neighborhoods, finding new restaurants and parks, meeting new people...

Welcome to Seattle! Let me know if you ever have any questions about the area. We'll have to meet up some time! Feel free to e-mail me any time seattlestevie@gmail.com

Sally said...

Nothing beats that feeling when everything feels just right. I can't wait to discover what awaits you all there.

Poor Dexter - imagine such an upheaval with no one able to really communicate ANY OF IT to you. Thank goodness you were together - imagine if he was with someone other than you or Mr. W?

Pizza out of the box within the walls of a new beginning with company you love - definitely sounds priceless to me.

Best wishes Jess!

mom said...

Change is hard for all of us..even our poochies! Give it some time and he'll get used to it just as you will. My dogs won't pee when walked either..they like their suburban back yard way too much:) BUT no one ..no dog can hold it forever so when he finally can't hold it he'll give in.
For me with all these kids the adventures are smaller. I'm glad you took this leap now sweetie or you may never have gotten to and regretted it all your life.
You keep telling him and yourself it will be alright and eventually both of you will start to believe it. You have all you need..Mr.W. and the pooch...sounds like you have it all! Big hugs!

Burnt Raisin said...

"Just because the circumstances were far from ideal and the change was scary didn’t mean it wasn’t going to be wonderful."

Just what I had to hear. Thinking of moving too. I feel I need it but I am very very scared. My recent "failure" sortv ruined what was supposed to be an ideal plan.

Now I'm having these nasty thoughts about purging ahead with my goals. What if the failure served as a sign -- that moving elsewhere shouldn't be an option?

Hah! "Change is scary, but good." I still feel something wonderful awaits me. :D

Loved this post! Sending you good vibes..all the best! =)

Anonymous said...

Aw poor Dexter. He'll get used to it eventually. When our family uprooted us from NYC to FLA for 2 years, it took our old dog, Meatball, about 2 months to stop jumping in the car and refusing to get out. He did this daily, no matter how late any of us were for school or work. Poor guy just wanted to go home!

You'll all be fine - I promise - or my name isn't JenD!

JessicaLee said...

Stevie, I would love to meet up with you! I ended up having plans the day of the Tweet up but should be able to make the next one. Thanks for the warm welcome. :)
Burt Raisin, please don't give up.... if I took every failure as a sign I'd still be sitting in Idaho miserable. Life doesn't work out the way we plan sometimes, but I'm finally able to admit that most times, it really is for the best in the end. Good luck. Thanks for the love everyone. :)

gatordad said...

...and the joy of drinking late in a great downtown jazz bar and having a rather cheap cab ride home to avoid the DUI deal is not to be discounted. There is nothing like good whiskey on the rocks, listening to the blues being played right, and people who appreciate both.

Paulina Tuy said...

Sounds like new locations, mean new beginnings. Change is always good, I mean, I believe change is always for the better! I'm glad you're loving it. Maybe we'll meet you down there-- sooner than later :)

 
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