I was doing okay. with not being here. okay. keeping it barely together. lots to do. thought I was okay, you know, when I stepped outside my front door, and there he was at the bottom of the porch. dirty clothes, snotty nose, the saddest eyes, and yet trusting.
A big dog was following him.
"Um, hi there little guy--where's your mommy?" I look in both directions.
"mommy not heow."
"Okay." I look up and down the street. No one. Walk down the steps to talk to him.
His shoes are untied, the tongues all stuck in and crumpled around his tan feet.
"Where do you live?"
He hands me a pinecone, points to the dog and says, "for bigfoot.. lalallalal bigfoot."
I sit on the step.
"How old are you sweetie?"
Two fingers come up.
Car goes up the road, down the road. He walked here all alone, on his way to someone who'd care.
"I'm sure someone's worried about you--can you show me where you came from?"
He points up the street.
"Okay, well, we'd better go back."
He takes my hand and asks about his mama. I say, "We'll find her."
Half way down the driveway, I pick him up and hold him. "I'll carry you sweetie."
But we don't find his mother. When he points to the door where he came from, three houses up, I know immediately that the same 18-year-old girl who had no mom of her own to speak of, who's puppy I've been taking care of for two nights, is in charge of Hanzel this day.
That's what he tells me his name is, and the irony and tragedy of it bowl me over.
hanzel and gretel. him and me.
I call for her and she comes out, eventually. Someone else leaves as she opens the door. She says its her uncle.
I say, "He was at my house. He's thirsty."
Mothers know this.
"I don't know why he doesn't stay in the yard--he likes to wander around."
That's what we learn to do at two years of age when no one is there for us.
To wander. Keep looking. Fly free in chains.
To keep looking for what was never there in the first place.
Standing in one place and seeing how hurt and alone we are is facing our own annihilation. You can't do it at two. But sometime, maybe, we all do it.
I say, "Well, get him some water."
And before I hand him over, I tell him if he ever gets lost again, he can come and get me.
"Ok," he says.
She says, "Well, if anything else of mine wanders down your way--jeesh the dog and now the kid--let me know."
I say, "Get him some water. He's thirsty."
And I walk home in barefeet with the pavement burning my soles.
And I weep.