Some days, when circumstances are mounting and the pressure demands, I lay down on the floor of my living room and look into the eyes of my dog. She leads, by definition, a dog's life. If I can find a way to relate to her at those low moments, then I can start picking up the pieces of my own existence and start to make sense of my world.
That's where I was last Sunday. I had a very pleasant day with my family. We had a very relaxing morning, during which I was showered by gifts and attention as the paterfamilias, and I looked forward to going out later that day to a movie and then dinner. It would be a full day of father recognition. The movie was plenty of fun: 3D glasses and a bucket of popcorn, my wife on one side, my son on the other. When we came out of the theater, we decided to walk up the street and check out the new restaurant. I was told there would be a steak in my future. We headed up the sidewalk, talking about the day's events and plans for the coming week.
The dinner was delicious. We ate and laughed and even saved a little money, thanks to my wife's clever massaging of coupons. When we were all full and then some, we walked back out into the late evening sun, carrying our leftovers. We strolled back down the street, past the theater, and across to the parking lot where we did not find our car.
And that's when the day changed. It stopped being Father's Day and became the day that our car was stolen. My little family sat on the grass next to the spot where our car had been just a few hours before, and dealt with the surreal moment of clarity: our fun family truckster, the one that had served us so faithfully on all those trips to Los Angeles and made the great circle voyage through the southwest was missing. The officer who took our report let us know that they had already received a report of our car being driven recklessly around the time we had been sitting down to dinner. It wasn't being driven recklessly by anyone we knew. A stranger was out for a joyride in the vehicle that hauled our groceries and carried my son to Aikido. We were told that we would be called if the car was located. Then we sat back down on the grass and waited for my mother-in-law to come and pick us up to take us home.
Home to where my dog was waiting. She greeted us at the door, and when we all came in and got settled, I took my spot on the floor across from her. She loves to go for a ride in the car, but she can do just fine without it. She was just happy to have her pack back with her. We were safe. We were together. For a moment, I had visions of borrowing a car and driving around town looking for our car. Then I let it go. I sighed and looked into the eyes of my dog. We were home safe, and that was the important thing.