Ready to spread his wings in the big city?

People who have known me for a long time know that I have the worst sense of direction in the world. It’s almost pathologically bad, a kind of directional dyslexia. But that never interfered with my New York-bred fast and confident stride.

Out-of-town friends who would visit me in Manhattan were often appalled to discover that I was determinedly marching them away from our desired destination.  But, really, what was the harm? There are far worse things than walking a few blocks out of the way in a great city. (I do understand the numbered streets, incidentally; it’s just the avenues with names that got me into trouble. And all of downtown.)

That irrational confidence driven by a desire to move forward carried over into other parts of my life. I honeymooned in Iran, Afghanistan and India. I quit a secure job in travel publishing to go to London for a year-long gig. I moved to Tucson, where I didn’t know a soul or have a job, on a whim, and got over my fear of driving there. (Which didn’t improve my sense of direction. It just ensured that I would go farther out of my way when I took a wrong turn.)

But in recent years, I started to get more cautious.

First, it was 9/11, which made traveling a hassle. Then I got a nonadventurous — a nice way of saying fearful– dog. And when that dog developed diabetes, I really started taking the path of least resistance.

Having decided that plane travel with Frankie would be too stressful because of the need to carry insulin and needles, and that my noise-averse pup would not enjoy New York or other big cities, I started flying to conferences and family events on my own and not staying very long. No pet sitter could care for Frankie as well as I could, after all. In lieu of real vacations, I started taking short car trips with Frankie, which he doesn’t particularly enjoy because they involve being in the car.

And, a few months ago, when a friend offered me a free stay of any length in her Manhattan apartment this summer while she is away in her upstate home, I went into what is now my default resistance mode.

With authority.

I told several people about the invitation and why I didn’t think I could accept it and with such confidence that no one sighed and rolled their eyes at me like they used to do when they saw me striding determinedly down the wrong street.

Until earlier this week.

There was no eye rolling, but when I told a dog-walking friend about how I didn’t think a month in New York with Frankie would work out, he looked at me like I was insane. And the more I tried to explain my reservations, the more they sounded lame.

Yes, I have a laptop computer. Yes, I am capable of getting my freelance work done in NYC. Yes, I could send my clothing and a good supply of Frankie’s food ahead so I wouldn’t have to worry about schlepping luggage and only have my laptop and Frankie’s diabetes supplies as carry ons. Yes, New York has vets. And yes, I’m sure Frankie would prefer to spend a month with me in noisy New York than be left behind for even ten days in Tucson.

And yes, it would be a good idea for a person who is writing a pet travel book to experience different types of pet travel.

When, I wondered, had I become such a wuss — and one who blamed the dog?

Frankie isn’t ever going to be cured of his diabetes or of his essential temperament. Am I going to spend the rest of his days depriving myself of things I want to do as a result? And who is it more fearful, when it comes down to it — me or Frankie?

Oh, I’m not going to stop worrying — another default mode, but one that had never stopped me in the past from moving forward. I know it’s going to be a pain in the butt to get dressed and go outside at 5am instead of taking Frankie out in my back yard in my bathrobe. And he might indeed be stressed out in the city. And his blood sugar might go haywire.

On the other hand, after his last dental, Frankie has a slightly scornful expression. He would fit right into Manhattan.

So I called my friend and left her messages at three different contact places to say, yes, I would love to spend August in her apartment. I checked flights on pet-friendly airlines.

I haven’t heard back. I may have waited too long. Some noncrazed person might have jumped at the chance to spend a summer in a Manhattan apartment for free. And that would be sad. But at least I know it’s time for a course correction, for me to start striding determinedly towards “Why not?” again.

31 thoughts on “Striding Determinedly”

  1. I would take your friend up on the offer. Frankie is small enough that he can fit under your seat in a carrier, so you will be able to see him and care for him the entire time. Didn’t you used to live in NYC?

    1. Yup, I was born in NYC and lived there until I moved to Tucson. Of course now that I’ve decided to go, I’m getting frantic because I haven’t heard from my friend…

  2. What a great opportunity. We recently learned that about 4 days in NYC is my limit, but for you it sounds awesome. Congrats.

    Because my dogs are too big to ride in the airplane cabin, it isn’t something I have NOT thought about much (air travel with dogs), but at the airport recently, I saw a woman with a small dog in a carrier in the security line … and I wondered …. do they make the dogs go through the x-ray machine?

    If so, that kind of skeeves me on the dog’s behalf.

    1. Roxanne, I recently did a post about people sneaking dogs on board planes without paying for a ticket — and I assumed that this meant sneaking them in a bag and putting them through X-rays. Turns out, the TSA agent don’t ask to see dog tickets and no dogs get X-rayed, ever, unless, as people sometimes do with babies, they are accidentally put on the conveyor belt to go through the machine! Otherwise, like kids, they are carried or walked through the portal with grownups/humans.

    1. New York isn’t exactly temperate in summer — think humidity plus lots of concrete — but I still want to go. One thing that’s great about NY in summer is that it doesn’t get dark until around 9 or 10. I miss that here.

  3. For some reason, I think I thought you still lived in New York. I really don’t know why. You must just give off that vibe.

    Anyway, I really hope you hear from your friend. I know exactly what it is like to hesitate too long and then have a great opportunity disappear. It sucks.

    1. You know what they say about taking the girl out of New York… It’s hard to believe, but I’ve been in Tucson since 1992!

      Thanks for your good wishes. Now that I’ve made my decision, it’s hard to be patient. I’m trying very hard to assume my friend is traveling outside the country and not checking her emails — which is not an unreasonable assumption, since she travels a lot and is a bit of a technophobe.

  4. You can move the girl to southern MO but she remains a northern, blizzard seeking MIdwesterner at heart; I was born in MN, lived there, SD and MT before moving to MO. I have been here 16+ years and am not assimilated. You go to NYC – it is obviously so in your blood – Frankie, with you, will be fine. If not, who better to know how to get him the correct care needed? Just get and follow destination directions first!

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever sought out NY weather — there’s a reason I moved to Tucson! — but everything else is definitely part of who I am. Thanks for your vote of confidence Roberta. Maybe I’ll get a personal GPS (though I’m excellent at riding the subways…)

  5. I can so relate to your reservations to traveling with Frankie. Daisy’s fear and attachment to me makes it hard. even when I took an overnight at a client’s house, Daisy came with (with the client’s permission of course). Jasper does well at my mother’s house so I could always leave him there, but Daisy would have to come with me.

    I cheer your change of mind! i think your experience could be extremely beneficial to those of us with dogs like Frankie. I hope you get that call back, because i very much look forward to reading about your experiences! I love NY. So jealous you get a month there – rent free!

    1. I hope I get the call back too! As it happens, this friend was my former boss and I feel almost as much anxiety as I felt when I was waiting to hear from her after my interview with her for the job. Almost.

  6. If only I could join you there! Remember those great winters (at least great for me) when I visited you in your oh-so-hip apartment? But I can’t come because I go nowhere without Archie, given his expiration date. Do I sound like I’m making excuses? I swear that I am not! Even though I’m not invited I want to join you in NYC.

    1. Of course you are invited! And of course you can’t travel with Archie at this point — or leave him, either. I would love it if you came — assuming I get to go, which is very far from certain — but I also know what that would mean, and I certainly don’t want to wish that either….

  7. I understand what you are talking about. I have a dog that is reactive with other dogs. I am constantly limiting myself because of what this dog can and can’t do. Where we go, where we walk. And as I keep limiting myself because of his reactions, (that I have always been able to handle) I keep finding myself stuck in this box of not being able to do anything or go anywhere, when I never gave it a thought before. What happened? Why did I change? How did my dog’s behavior let me erode over time?

    Let’s us know how you take that course of action. I would love to hear about it.

  8. Hello there, we’ve just started following you from the Pet Blog Hop!

    Frankie is adorable, and I hope you both enjoy yourselves in Manhatten if you do get the chance to go there now. I’m sure, like your dog walker friend, that Frankie would prefer to be with you for a month than without you–I have a sensitive, attached dog too.

    1. Thanks for coming by, Sophie, and Frankie thanks you for the compliment! I hope I’ll have good news to report.

  9. I do hope you can make the trip. Since I know you’re from New York, I won’t bother with the “NY in August? What are you nuts? You realize that every New Yorker is going to be at the beach all month escaping the humidity, right?” lecture.

    If all goes forward, you realize you’re within a short hop of Blog Paws?

    But if NY ends up not being in the cards, it sounds like you’re primed for a new adventure with Frankie. Good luck!

    1. Ah, Pamela, Tucson in August is worse, so the trip is kind of like going from the fire into the frying pan. The concept, in fact, was originally predicated on going to BlogPaws and being nearby but… there’s that pesky money issue, not to mention more traveling with Frankie. We’ll see.

  10. “why not” is the question indeed. Maybe it will not be a feast for Frankie to visit NY. But you will learn valuable lessons about him once more. Dogs also have a comfort zone we shouldn’t allow them to dwell in. I know you will manage and take excellent care of him. This sounds like a great adventure for both of you!

    1. Thanks! I hope it’s an adventure I’ll be allowed to have. I still haven’t heard back from my friend. I hope she’s having a good time out of phone and email reach somewhere…

  11. “On the other hand, after his last dental, Frankie has a slightly scornful expression. He would fit right into Manhattan.”

    Edie, you crack me up! I hope your friend gets back to you so you can go… sounds like it would be a good experience. I’m inspired that you decided to try this new adventure!

    1. Thanks! Now I’m really bummed because she STILL hasn’t gotten back to me. But I’m just going to stubbornly assume she’s in Thailand or someplace equally far and phone-access challenged. Seriously, she wouldn’t ignore my calls/emails even though we’re not in regular touch. If the answer was no, I’m pretty confident she’d let me know.

  12. YEA!!! You go, Edie! Even if this opportunity doesn’t work out (and I feel fairly confident it will) you’ve changed your perspective and the next adventure could be right around the corner.

    1. You can see Frankie in New York, can’t you, Amy? — striding determinedly right behind me 😉

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