Sometimes, I forget where I live. Today, sitting in the sand on the the smallest of low tide beaches, I watched my dog jump at the water. Emma Louise has never seen the ocean before. She’s never kicked up sand with her puppy gallop. She’s never sported muddy paws, nor a sandy underbelly, nor sea salt encrusted fur. She’s like no dog I’ve ever known.
“Come on goof, let’s check it out.” I slipped under the Battery’s fence and jumped a few feet down; Emma– my skittish, worried, tail-between-legs dog, quickly followed. She nose dived on the jump, coming up with a sandy snout. I laughed, she shook. I took off her leash and she followed me to the water’s edge. She watched me walk in. She watched, I waded. “It’s so fun!” I said, bending down, asking her to join me. Tentatively she placed one paw in the cold water. Then two. Then she was all in, rubbing against my legs, running back towards the sand, lapping at the waves–becoming fully muddy, sandy and sea salt encrusted. Emma Louise, water dog.
Sometimes I forget where I live. I live on a peninsula. I grew up on a peninsula. I grew up with muddy dogs. If I want, I can live with a muddy dog too.
Five days a week, I commute to my two different jobs. I leave downtown Charleston for Mt. Pleasant and Daniel Island. I like my jobs a lot–one teaches me more than I ever thought I’d want to know (about finance, if that gives you an idea of the learning curve I’m working with), and the other lets me play with dogs. I come home, eat dinner, watch TV, pretend to read a novel, and fall asleep. And then I start all over.
It’s not that I never see my city. I run downtown. I do laundry downtown. I go out and drink too much downtown. Sometimes Sissy and I get dinner downtown. We walk home, marvel at our courtyard’s lit up fountain, enter our apartment, go to bed.
I get caught up in the normalcy of life. Don’t get me wrong–I think life at its most normal is often life at its most beautiful. But it can also be the kind of life that passes us by. Here I am, forever seeking balance.
Every Monday I see some kid on Instagram post “Carpe Diem” (with a terrible filter to match), and I laugh out loud. Really? You’re gonna seize the day in your cubicle? Please, let me know how it goes. You don’t have to get riled up about something that’s perfectly normal. Your job pays your rent and teaches you something and gives you paid holidays. Why would you try to “carpe” any more than that?
So, yes, some normal things should stay that way. If we don’t bask in the boredom of our 9-5s, then how the hell are we going to see the beauty in 5:15 sunsets?
I have one 9-5, and one 12-7. Does that make me normal?
I find myself taking more and more pictures on my phone. A lot of this has to do with the fact that I have an iPhone 5s, and that it takes really sweet photos. But most of it has to do with me, putting something between myself and my reality. If I take a picture of a moment, do I make it better?
I almost cried at Emma’s sandy snout today. A few days ago, the same thing happened, when I took Emma to the park for the first time. The sun had just risen, but hadn’t had time to melt all of the frost. Emma bit at the grass, licked it. She ran and ran through the field like she’d never felt so free. Maybe she hadn’t. Seeing my dog puppy-jump through a field felt like the most brilliant bit of normalcy I’d experienced in a while. I took a picture of her standing between the sun and the shadows. My galloping girl.
I had to capture her. Here, this. It exists. Parks and beaches exist. I think, without Emma Louise, I would forget where I live. I would see a palmetto and remember ah, yes, South Carolina. But would I remember to stand knee-deep in salt water in December?
When it comes to pictures, I guess I don’t believe in balance. I have over 1,000 Instagram pictures. Are my moments made less when I share them with others? Do I feel validated by likes? I’m not sure. Yes, and no, would answer both of those questions.
I live a normal life. I don’t travel across Europe, Nikon in tow. I don’t have a high-powered, high-paying job. I don’t seek my “passions;” I don’t spend my spare time trying to better myself. I read more magazines than novels. I run so that I may drink. I sleep so that I may wake up and sleep some more. I never have enough money–for gas, for gifts, for the nice brand of dog food. And I take lots and lots of pictures of my cat and dog.
Maybe my life exists so that others may feel better about their own lives. Oh this chick does this too? Oh and that–god, I don’t even do that. And she pretty much only hangs out with her sister and her pets. Ok, I like her. I can relate to that. I pray that the normalcy of my life brightens the life of just one other person (even if this brightness comes from being on the more favorable end of a comparison).
Sometimes, I forget where I live. I live in Charleston, SC. Down here, you can get muddy feet for free. You can take as many pictures as you like, and post them wherever you please. If you’re really lucky, you can come home with a muddy-pawed dog, and watch her jump in your bed. You can shrug your shoulders, crawl in next to her, and watch her fall asleep on your leg.
I’ll let you in on a secret of my normal life–no picture can capture how that feels.