The rain was playing tricks with us today. First it poured, so we thought we’d cancel our little outing, then the sun emerged, and we decided to go ahead. While in the bus, the skies opened up again. We made our way back to our old neighbourhood in the rain. I had forgotten my rain hat, but I was very glad I remembered Lucy’s raincoat and my Princess was nice and dry. When we arrived at our favourite pet supplies shop, Rupert and Dora, the sun decided to make another appearance!
I am exhausted from the sensory overload and physical effort, but it was well worth it. The nearer we got to ‘home’ the more Lucy became excited, sniffing the air, sniffing the trees and she was actually smiling. It brought bake memories of an incident some time ago, when we were walking near our old home, a lady stopped us and remarked, “Do you know, your dog is smiling?” Of course, she had a marvelous time at Rupert and Dora, where her beloved Auntie Sylvie showered her with kisses and treats! Mumma came away with three bully sticks and Auntie Sylvie threw in one huge beef chewie as a present to Lucy!
Our friend Rick bought us tea time tasties. We bumped into another neighbourhood friend, P, who Lucy immediately recognised and was overjoyed to see. P and his wife are adoring parents of a tiny, fiesty rescued teacup poodle, Fifi, who Lucy liked to visit during our walks. We stopped at Not Just Coffee, our favourite cafe for the iconic carrot cupcake, and sat there soaking up some nostalgia for awhile. It was close to closing time, but the folks there are always ever so friendly and Lucy was happy to be back again. As we walked past the Paddington Reservoir Gardens, Lucy pulled me towards the stairs where I first taught her how to go up and down stairs. We had a little walk around the gardens, and she seemed very excited. Oh, the adventures we had and the friends we met in that little place! As she gazed down at the water feature below, I wondered if she remembered the time when she dashed into the water and stood in a state of frozen confusion at finding herself knee deep in yucky water, looking at me as if asking me to go in and save her? Or did she remember the time when she slipped and fell on the wet concrete, cut herself so badly that she had to be stitched up by the vet under anaesthesia? I cried all afternoon, in a state of terrible fear and anxiety, while she was at the vet’s.
The highlight of the afternoon, for me, was running into someone I had been thinking a lot about lately. She is the very beautiful old lady I met last winter at the soup kitchen for the homeless. Her gloves were tattered and it was so very cold and wet, so I gave her my gloves. I later bought her warm socks too. She touched me deeply because of her dignity and poise, and her very educated accent. She told me she used to be a ballerina in the UK. And she used to say a prayer for me each time we met. Today, as we were making our way back to COFA campus to catch the shuttle bus home, we heard distressed barking sounds coming from the public library. I looked and saw a sweet little doggy, looking like a miniature Puli with those cute dreadlocks, screaming his little lungs out. Then out rushed an old lady, she began to comfort the dog, and I realised that was her! She looked even more frail than before, and for a moment, she did not recognise us. Her eyes were more tired than I remembered, her hair wispier, and her face even more lined than before. She was dressed in her signature elegant style, amazingly put together despite the tattered and worn state of her clothes. She told me she spends a lot of time these days at the library. The dog belonged to another lady, who later emerged to claim her pooch.
It began to drizzle on our way back to the shuttle bus. Upon reaching the bus, Lucy suddenly backed away and didn’t want to get into the bus. Fortunately, our friend Sara was there, and she helped me coax the Princess up the steps. We chatted all the way home, and Lucy was a lot calmer with Sara around.
Lucy was not the only one thrilled to be back in our old neighbourhood. I was too. We lived there for two years, and we’ve built relationships and collected memories along the way. I am not sure we will return to live there again, I have no idea where we will be after this chapter in our narrative, but I am working towards getting our own vehicle so we can travel around with greater ease. We will be back, even if only to visit!
Time to crawl into bed and cuddle my Angel now. The dishes in the sink will have to wait. Home is wherever we are together, but Paddington will always have a special place in our hearts no matter where we make our home in the future.