In yoga last night, the woman on the mat next to me looked like a gypsy. Her ujjayi was so strong that it felt like I had a fan on my back for the entire class. When we reached savasana, the word “gypsy” stuck in my mind and all I could think of was an old friend from years ago whom I still miss.
In grad school, I lived in a beat up old Victorian with five other students. It was a good time but could also be a bad reality show on wheels. Our next door neighbors had a dog that never stopped barking and everyone in the house complained about the stupid dog waking them up early every morning. The dog was a big, shaggy golden retriever who never seemed to go on walks. So one day I went next door and asked if I could take the dog running with me by the lake. The dog’s owner, Stephanie, looked at me like I’d just handed her the winning check for the lottery. “Gypsy would love nothing more,” she said. This adorable, hyper dog was confined to a small house and that’s what was driving her nuts. Stephanie’s daughter was disabled and she couldn’t leave her alone long enough to take Gypsy for walks.
Every evening, Gypsy and I would head out around the landfill near Northwestern. At first she was totally hyper and almost choked herself on the leash, but Stephanie bought her one of those halter leashes and after that she was better. Eventually Gypsy stopped trying to jump on everyone we passed, smell every blade of grass and take a swim whenever we were near the water. She was good company and we had fun together. And clearly she loved the runs—whenever I arrived at the house to pick her up, she’d spin around in circles and pee herself. She also stopped barking first thing in the morning.
The runs with Gypsy stopped when I moved to DC, but I went back to see Stephanie every time I visited Chicago on business. The last time I was in Evanston, Gypsy did her circle dance by the door and waited near the dinner table, hoping that we’d go for a spin by the lake once the food was gone. But it was late and I was unprepared. The look in her eyes when I walked out the door without her still makes me cry. I wonder if she’s still alive, or if she ever got to run in the grass again.