My life has a new chapter and that chapter is titled “Dodger the Dog.” A month ago, Dodger came into our lives. As I had hoped he would, he has enabled me to see my neighborhood through renewed eyes. As if I could love my hometown any more than I already do, I am discovering a new side of it all.
Perhaps my favorite new activity is the simplest one: taking Dodger for a walk. Of course, at 6:00 AM on workdays it is no longer my favorite. But then the weekends arrive and though I wish I could sleep in just a little, Dodger does not allow that to happen. He is always ecstatic when it’s time to walk through our neighborhood, and on the weekends it is a special treat. I don’t have to worry about getting out the door to get to work on time so our walks are twice as long and twice as adventurous.
If you are a longtime reader, a Florida Lifer, then you may recall that I bought the house I grew up in. I have spent nearly my entire life in the same house and the same neighborhood. During my college years I ventured out, but when my parents retired and moved into their second home, I came back to my old stomping grounds.
It’s a curious thing to spend your adult life in the same exact place in which your childhood and adolescence flourished. Streets that were once the frequent scenes of my bike rides to and from school, homes that belonged to childhood friends are both familiar yet seen in a new light. There’s the cul-de-sac where some of my closest childhood friends lived, where sleepovers took place. It seemed so huge back then and now feels so small. There’s the small condo neighborhood full of trees and simple, lovely gardens – I used to believe fairies lived here, sometimes I wish I still did. Memories seep from every corner.
When Dodger and I venture out on our walks we have our pick of four different parks in the neighborhood. As a child I frequented these playspots, these destinations where my imagination went wild. Other parks are new or evolved versions of their predecessors. One such park was originally created thanks to my mother. This park has now matured and grown to become my community’s special event space, it is also a favorite play site for Dodger, my husband, and I.
I, like so many dog owners, prefer morning walks. The sun is still low, the air more welcoming. Birds sing a chorus of “good morning” and the world is starting to wake up. Even during the work week when I rush through the walk to make sure I have time to get ready for the workday ahead, there is much to enjoy. And on the weekends when I can let Dodger sniff ’til his heart’s content, I welcome the day with a heart fulfilled. I didn’t think it was possible, but I indeed love my home, I love This Florida Life, more than ever.