I was walking along the beach with my dog thinking about life. My father-in-law had just died, only nine months after my mother had died and seven months after my aunt had died. It was a difficult time. So, I went for a walk. That always helps, right? Well, not always.
It was early May and the campground was empty. There were no children on the beach. No families with umbrellas to protect them from the sun and no coolers filled with ice cold beverages. It was a school day, so my children were the only ones wandering around the campground. I was wearing mittens and a hat as I headed out that afternoon to say hello to Lake Michigan.
As I walked with Kricket, my border collie, I had this earthy and healthy feeling, two traits which do not really describe me, but traits that I wished I had. I promised myself that this scene would be replayed all summer long: the picture of me, walking Kricket multiple times each day as a way to become the person I thought I should be. We haven’t had a walk since, and that was almost three months ago. Oh, well! I’ll worry about that tomorrow.
As I approached the beach, I saw a sign that said, “No Dogs Allowed” I quickly looked over both shoulders. No one was watching. Heck, there wasn’t another person there! I really wanted to walk on the beach and look out across Lake Michigan like I did when I was a child, so I channeled my inner daredevil and walked past the sign. With my dog.
After about ten minutes, we were still the only creatures to be seen. Not even a seagull dared to walk past the “No Dogs Allowed” sign. My pictures snapped, I walked back towards the campground. And then I saw him. The ranger. The standard white truck with green lettering pulled along the beach access road. Surely the ranger would just keep going. A middle-aged woman wearing a woolen hat and mittens with her dog on a leash posed no threat today, right? Wrong.
He pulled over, turned off the motor, and began walking in my direction. I immediately tried to hide behind sand dunes and plot ways to escape notice only to realize that he had already noticed me. To be fair, he was very sweet. He was just doing his job. And as it turned out, he probably regretted stopping to talk to me after about 30 seconds.
He asked me if I knew that dogs were not allowed on the beach. Should I lie? Feign a shocked expression and pretend that I was illiterate as we stood about 20 feet from the sign? I chose honesty. I figured that if I gave him a short version of why I was on the beach in the first place, recent death of father-in-law requiring me to seek solice on the beach of my childhood with my devoted furry friend, he would sympathize. He did, but as he handed me the map of “Dog Approved Areas of the State Park” I began sobbing. The kind of sobbing where your words run together like a toddler and your mouth goes incredibly dry. “I normally don’t do things like this,” I told him,”I usually follow the rules, but there was no one here and I didn’t think it would hurt anything for the ten minutes I was on the beach with my dog…..” and on and on and on. By the time I was done, I’m sure he was grateful to get back into his car and drive away. I was left with a warning and a map of approved areas for dogs. I was also left feeling like a complete idiot. Maybe this is why I haven’t walked Kricket since? Hmmm… that’s worth a moment’s thought!
First things first, I am not the most optimistic person you will ever meet. There. That is out in the open!
As a way to, “be the person I want to be” as well to just feel happier about my life, I’m going on a journey to become more grateful. Maybe it will make me happier. Maybe it will help me to look at the crap that happens in life from a different perspective. Maybe I will just learn how to write using better grammar. Whatever the result, I’m excited about the journey.