Sunday, August 8, 2010

The First Thanksgiving After Moving Out

(Double-click on the above photo for a better look of a dog's head peaking through the breakfast room.)

For my first Thanksgiving break while I was living in NJ, I planned on taking a day off of work the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day and driving down to NC late Tuesday. There was no way in hell I’d drive on that I-95 corridor the day before Thanksgiving. The place is a zoo as it is on a regular day. I can only imagine how bad it would be during the holidays. I changed my plans for some reason. I’m not sure if we were given an extra day off or what but I was going to spend the whole week in NC and return home on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

This trip would be bitter sweet because I was going to spend a lot of time with the babies and yet the trip had long lasting effect on Abby. I know the decision to take the whole week off was quickly made. I left from my NJ home around 7:30 that night which meant I would be arriving in NC around 3am. I am a night owl so driving this late was not a problem for me. By the time I passed through the DC area, it was around 11 or 12 at night. This was the only time traffic was not backed up during my many trips back and forth through that area. The night being clear and the traffic being light, I was able to look up the Potomac without having to focus on traffic and for the first time in my adult life, I saw the Washington Memorial. The trip was otherwise uneventful without any cockamamie delays, football games at RFK or road construction.

When I arrived home, everyone had gone to sleep. As I pulled up the driveway, I could see Abby’s head silhouetting in the breakfast room window. She almost had a smile on her face and her tail was wagging back and forth so strongly that her whole body began to move from side to side. I was happy to see her yet I was worried that she was sleeping by herself in the kitchen area or den at night. Normally, my mom told me, Abby slept in her bedroom at night either at the foot of her bed or on the floor. But on this night, Abby didn’t want to sleep with my mom. In an attempt to curb Andy’s sneaking out of the bedroom at night, my mom closed her bedroom door so it wasn’t as if Abby had left the bedroom in the middle of the night to go elsewhere. Once my mom closed that bedroom door, everyone in that bedroom was locked in for the night or conversely, everyone not in the bedroom was locked out.

I don’t remember much about that trip other than the trip down and Abby greeting me when I arrived. One would think that a week’s vacation would prompt many memories but it didn’t. I’m sure I spent quite a bit of time with the babies, but there was not much else to comment on for that vacation.

The next day I asked my mom why Abby was out in the kitchen by herself and not with the other dogs with in her bedroom. My mom assured me that Abby normally slept in her bedroom with her and that the previous night was an exception. This late arrival of mine had a sad effect on Abby. From then on for a year or two, Abby no longer slept in my mom’s room. Instead she slept in the den or kitchen where she could keep a close eye on anyone coming up the driveway. From then on, Abby associated the late night with the possibility of my coming home and she wanted to be there waiting for me when I did return. Instead of having the companionship of my mom and two dogs, Abby pined away at night for me. I’m sure every night she thought that it would be the night I would come back.

I remember my mom trying to assure me that Abby would be OK when I moved away and Abby wouldn’t take it hard. It was apparent a few months after I moved that Abby was taking this much harder than I anticipated. Looking back, I don’t know what I could have done. There is no telling how she would have responded had she moved to NJ. She would have been alone for many hours of the day. Surely she would have missed my mom, the dogs and the house as much as she was missing me. It was a sad dilemma with no easy answers.

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