We had all come to this place missing dogs. And so we directed our love onto Bella, whose eyes were big and round and whose snorting noises in our faces and ears made our hearts swell and then melt and gush all over our hard leather boots.
We had all come to this place missing dogs. These Honeys and L’il Bits. These Monsters and Shorty LaRues. These T-Bones and Dangos and Stevie Nicks and Rothkos. And so we directed our love onto Bella. Her huge black ears. Her puffy white head. And we were happy about it. And so was she.
The snorting from a Bella is like the whisper of good news. The clicks and the gurgles she exhales. The spits and the sneezes. The face full of small, hysterical puppy sounds. The constant frenetic movement that turns a photo into a blur.
We had all come to this place missing dogs.
But we had Bella. And we had each other.
The Mitch was the first. We drove him up Highway 1 from LA to San Francisco and we watched the sun set over the Pacific from inside his tinted windows and that stoic, white frame. Then there was The Doreen and The Rusty Trombone, who carried us to eastern cities like New York and Philly and the gritty-gritty and the dirt. And then there was the Brocephus, which we drove through The Everglades and in which we ate alligator meat, and did the seeing of many glorious birds.
Temperate Tex did the Dallas to Austin on The I-35. He sat patiently in some traffic south of Waco. He detoured to a Dairy Queen for Blizzards.
He helped us uncover the American Dream.
He was Midnight Blue and sexy.
And he weren’t a bit dirty or rude or un-gentleman like.
A magazine launch should have the following:
Beautiful food stuffs
Lots of fine and lovely people
Somehow, The Austin Review managed all of the above.
In the midst of all this, I read a story about children finding a dead cat. And then I recited the times tables. I’m told at least one person cried (and it wasn’t me, I swear.) A few people also laughed. I only bumped my head against the projector screen behind me once. I think I played it off.
I saw people I hadn’t seen in 21 years, and that was really really good.
And look, here’s the thing: my family was there and I was there with them. Everybody who I knew there was my family, and that was basically the point of the whole thing to begin with. Nothing would have been the same if that family hadn’t been there. Nothing is the same when they aren’t.
We had all come to this place missing dogs, and so we directed our love onto Bella. And we huddled near one another when the bar we moved to after midnight didn’t have any heat lamps.
And we felt good and warm and inspired and lucky.
A long-overdue conversation over scotch and margaritas about books and about children and about finding the truth. A debate over the general happiness of Columbians and the generalized anxiety of Americans. The quest for groceries and for things to eat and drink. The reconnecting of hearts and souls.
And what happened is what always happens, and it is this: we left that place missing what we found there and wanting to find it again.
Which is the reason to keep doing it.
To keep doing the missing of dogs.
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