quinta-feira, 12 de fevereiro de 2015
Love Stories: We Used to Take Romantic Vacations—Then We Got a Dog
By J. Courtney Sullivan
VOGUE CULTURE - February 6, 2015 9:00 am
Early in our relationship, Kevin and I lived mostly out of suitcases. We moved in together, but aside from merging our book collections and hanging a few pictures, we didn’t decorate our Brooklyn apartment much. We were hardly ever there.
After six years of working full-time and writing fiction on the weekends, I had sold my second novel and quit my day job to work on a third. Kevin’s job was portable. We basked in our newfound ability to be spontaneous. A friend in London needed someone to apartment-sit while she was gone for a month—we flew in on a week’s notice. Another said she had a house on Nantucket that was sitting empty until May. We went for all of April.
If I had to be in Austin or San Francisco on book tour, Kevin came along, and we stayed a few extra days if we felt like it. While in Nashville, we learned that Dolly Parton would be appearing at the Grand Ole Opry two days after our scheduled departure. Naturally, we extended the trip.
We celebrated special occasions with lavish accommodations. We took a vacation instead of exchanging Christmas gifts, staying in Paris at the Relais Christine, a Left Bank hotel built on the remains of a thirteenth-century abbey. We spent New Year’s Eve at the Peninsula in Chicago, and my birthday at the Carlyle in New York.
A year passed in a blur of new destinations, long romantic dinners, and high-end toiletries in tiny bottles. But then my wanderlust gave way to a sudden craving for home. I bought a Crock-Pot, and decided that we needed a dog.
“You travel too much to get a dog,” Kevin’s mother warned. She had a point, but we reasoned that we would travel less. Kevin could stay behind if I went away for work. When we wanted to go someplace together, well, that’s what dog sitters were for.
One snowy Tuesday, we met a litter of hound-retriever puppies at a local shelter. Landon, sweet and mellow, was the only boy. His sisters dragged him across the floor by his cheek as he dozed. He didn’t seem to mind. We were smitten. I held Landon to my chest, zipped him up inside my coat, and carried him to the car.
A month later, we left the dog with a sitter for three nights while we went to Red Sox Spring Training. Cynthia bought Landon a Red Sox jersey and took him everywhere. She sent pictures. He looked happy. We were so relieved. Then Cynthia moved to L.A.
In the weeks that followed, we looked halfheartedly for a replacement. But every sitter we met was too something. “I want someone who will throw himself into oncoming traffic for this dog,” Kevin declared. The problem was this: We had fallen in love with Landon. Every day, we studied him. We learned that he favors scrambled eggs over hard-boiled. That he hates thunderstorms and has an irrational fear of throw pillows. From the front door of our building, he knows his way to a toy store in every direction. Each morning, people on the street comment on how beautiful he is, and we say thank you, as though we had something to do with it.
We didn’t leave Landon with anyone for ten months. We brought him on our annual summer vacation to Maine. Otherwise, we stayed put. It was nice to have food in the fridge for once, to be able to make dinner plans weeks in advance. Still, we missed traveling, just a little. When I went away alone on business, it felt like business.
Eventually, we got engaged, and Kevin booked a night at the Taj in Boston. It would be a getaway like we used to have. We gritted our teeth and boarded Landon at a place nearby, where, if you wanted, you could watch your dog via Skype twenty-four hours a day. We agreed not to look.
By the time we arrived, I had the flu. We couldn’t go anywhere. In the privacy of our room, with its crystal chandelier and views of the Public Garden, we drank champagne and watched the dog on Skype. Landon was miserable. He cried all night. So did I.
Next time we stayed at the Taj, Landon came along. He strutted across the lobby like he owned the place.
We started bringing him everywhere. When planning a trip, my Google searches changed from “best hotel in . . .” to “dog friendly hotels in . . .” I no longer cared to learn the names of the newest restaurants in a given place, only the ones that offered patio seating and water bowls. We took Landon to a bed and breakfast on Martha’s Vineyard, to five-star hotels in Boston and Chicago, to grand old oceanfront inns in Maine.
Other people found this odd. “You’re getting a little Best in Show,” one friend said. I probably would have felt the same way, watching it from the outside. Who but Paris Hilton took a dog to a hotel? But we loved bringing Landon along, and he seemed so happy when we did.
Of course, there were moments when we doubted our sanity. We had to adjust expectations some. When it was just the two of us, we once had an idyllic stay at the Birchwood Inn in Lenox, Massachusetts. Pleased to find that the inn accepted dogs, we returned with Landon. It poured the entire weekend. We passed restaurants we’d eaten at the previous fall on the way to dinner in a Friendly’s parking lot. We ate in the car, water pelting the windshield, Landon in the backseat begging for a fry. Unable to go to a museum or a movie, we hiked in the rain instead.
Landon is four now. On the rare occasion when we can’t bring him—a trip abroad, say—we have found one reliable place to leave him. A place he adores: my mother-in-law’s house in Des Moines. Sure, it’s a twenty-hour drive each way, but who’s counting?
En route, we stay somewhere along I-80. Out in the middle of the country, the dog-friendly options are hit-or-miss. Last year, we walked into a room after midnight and a cascade of water fell on our heads. I swear there was a blood stain on the wall.
But they’re not all bad. I highly recommend the La Quinta Inn in Perrysburg, Ohio. There’s a Chili’s not far away, and a middle-school baseball field next door, where a dog can take a good run in the early morning light.
Kevin and I realize how crazy we sound when it comes to Landon. How crazy we are, maybe. But who hasn’t felt a love so all-consuming that it makes them a little nuts?
Recently, returning from Iowa, we stopped for the night in western Pennsylvania. Our room was on the ground floor of an otherwise empty building behind the actual hotel. We drank beer and watched Sixteen Candles.
I am always the last one awake. For a while, I watched Kevin and Landon sleep. We had just spent ten hours driving, covered in the dust of peanut M&M’s and bad rest-stop pizza, our tiny car packed to the gills. Out in the parking lot, a couple argued. The room had a funny smell. Even so, I felt it—the peaceful sense at the end of every night, wherever we three are together.
J. Courtney Sullivan is the author of the novels Commencement, Maine, and The Engagements.
Posted by Francisco Augusto Vaz Brasil at 23:30