Let's take getting caught in a park with Linus off his leash, for instance. I don't know why this terrifies me, but it does. It didn't always terrify me. When I lived in Georgia, Linus and I were a stone's throw from a ton of great outdoor activities. We went up to the Appalachian trail almost weekly, and I'd keep him on his leash until we'd get a little ways in, and then I'd let him loose. Why? Because I'm reckless? No. Because I trained him, and he stays with me. I know the damn dog. So when I let him run around me at a trail head once, without his leash, and a (fat) park ranger drove up and got out of his truck to sidle up to me and announce, "you gotta have your dog on a leash," I pretty much had it coming.
However, this guy had a north Georgia accent, and he said it like I was some kind of idiot that didn't know what I was doing (sometimes I'm irrationally angry at people when I think they think I'm dumb. I just don't like condescension. It's upsetting). So I responded, not by saying, "Oh, I'm sorry, sir. I didn't realize," because who cares what this guy actually thought of me. Oh no. I said, "Oh really? It doesn't say it anywhere on this information board. How am I supposed to know that?"
SO, he pointed at a line on the list of "hikers guidelines" that read, "keep your dog restrained at all times," and he said, "Right there. It says you gotta have your dog on a leash."
"No. It says, 'keep your dog restrained.'"
"Well, yeah. That means on a leash."
"My dog is trained. He's under my control, and is, therefore, restrained. He will never go too far away from me, and he always comes when I call him."
"But the woods are different," (like I'd never been in the woods before. GAH), "he could look up 'n see a squerrl' n' the next thang yew know he's off into the woods, n' you're callin' me on the phone cryin' 'bout how you can't find yer dog cuz he done run off into the woods."
It's a good thing I'm not violent...
I took a breath, a beat, a pause, and finally bent down to put the leash on Linus and said, "I understand. Just...the wording is not as direct as it could be. I can easily argue with the wording."
I took the leash off about five minutes from the trail head. Never lost him.
Today, on the other hand, I drove Linus north of the city to find the Des Plaines River Trail. Funny thing, Google Maps. Whenever I use it to find driving directions to a trail, it just takes me to a random spot close to the trail and says, "you have arrived."
I love that: "You have arrived." Who doesn't dream of hearing that every day of her life? When Google Maps tells me, it usually just means that I'm on a two lane road in the middle of nowhere and there is PROBABLY a trail...into the woods...close by.
Well, I was right next to the trail, but I had no idea where to put my car so that I could get out to walk on the trail. I drove up and down the road avoiding "no parking" areas, the lawns of homeowners, and anything that looked like it was there to keep up the charade of picturesque country living. I literally got stressed about this. About PARKING. I kept thinking, "I can't park in front of this person's house because it will upset them," as if upsetting a midwesterner is the worst thing one can do.
I mean, it kind of is. They're so damn agreeable.
I pulled my car around behind a house that was falling apart, but still on sale, and I left a note. I sat in my car worrying about the realtor possibly showing the house, coming to the back, seeing my car, and flying into a rage of cop calling/fine charging. I WORRIED about this. So I wrote a note that simply asked of anyone that might discover the car, "please don't tow my car. I'm new to the area, and I just want to hike on the trail. I am so sorry. I will be back before sunset."
I don't know where it comes from. Maybe staying in Georgia, as much as I loved, dearly, my friends, was inching me towards the edge. I was like that kid that grows up in a small town, who never fits in, and just wants to leave it all to become a dancer. Because nobody in this one Starbucks town understands that I have DREAMS. So I bucked the law. When the law said, "please restrain your dog," I responded with, "You restrain YOUR dog. Cuz I'ma....kick your....mom. You! Bah! Yeah!" And then I cut all my hair off and joined the circus.
And since then, I've found that circus life is something I want to maintain...so I don't want to upset anyone....or, I would prefer to upset as few people as possible. I plan on sticking around for a minute. Please don't tow my car.
P.S. I let Linus run off-leash on the trail. It was pretty freaking cold and, therefore, pretty empty.
P.P.S. I didn't actually cut all my hair off.