Notes From a Hired Pen

On the Road with Jen: 6 months on, and ready for a new beginning




Dear readers! All…well I don’t know how many of you there are because I don’t look.

I know I missed my usual update last week, but for good reason. Here’s the run down of what’s been going on:

1. I went to Hawaii. Aloha! After my first plane broke and a five hour flight delay, I finally touched down in wonderland, where I stayed for a week. Except for the cockroach in my Airbnb (which I got a refund for), and my Hilo hotel accusing me of stealing something (which lol – Master Card is going t handle that), it was magical. I spent time in Oahu, Maui and the big island of Hawaii. It was an incredible trip. One day, I swam in 80 degree water then that night, watched sunset from 14,000 feet up in 40 degree weather. I can’t wait to go back. That and New Mexico have been my favorite states so far (photos, as always, are on my Instagram).

2. I got sick. My flight back from Hawaii was cancelled. I could have stayed three more days but…they offered a full refund and I got a flight on another airline for later that same day. It meant being squashed in a middle seat next to a person who felt confident enough to take up some of my space, but I really wanted to be reunited with my Jeep and onto my next state. On the flight, I felt a tickle in my nose, then sneezed. I thought maybe the person in part of my seat had a cat. But as the six-hour flight stretched on, reality descended: head cold. I had a terrible one in April that still has fluid lodged behind my right eardrum (which yes is as unpleasant as it sounds). I landed in Las Vegas at midnight and decided to drive to my hotel in Utah anyway. I bought Day and NyQuil in a gas station convenience store that was attached to a bar. I fell into bed in Utah at 4am (their time – for me, it was still midnight). It’s the only night drive I’ve done, and while I was alert if sniffly on it, I don’t care to do it again. I slept for five hours that night and 11 the next.

3. I soldiered through Utah anyway. Because there is so much to see. I walked the Narrows at Zion National Park (which given the crowds and lines and shuttles, reminded me a lot of Disney World), stopped at Cedar Breaks National Monument to take in the view, and did a short hike at Bryce Canyon National Park. I started to feel more myself by the time I got to Capitol Reef National Park, but I still opted to skip past Canyonlands and Arches because I enjoyed Capitol Reef so much and I didn’t want to push myself while still not full capacity.

4. I am now in Colorado. I stopped my first night in Grand Junction and drove the Colorado National Monument. I’m dog-sitting in a suburb of Denver. This afternoon, I hiked at Mount Falcon and tomorrow I will try not to be scraped off the pavement at the Liberty Four Miler. I haven’t been running that much, so that plus elevation will be a butt kicker. But I still want to do it because I like running on the Fourth of July, and I haven’t been to Denver proper yet.

And there’s another reason: tomorrow is the six month anniversary of the death of my dog. I’m doing so much better than I was six months ago, even three months ago. I’m am turning toward the fact that I’m ready to adopt another dog because I think I can handle another ending, which is what I’ve been thinking about most in deciding whether or not to do this again. This dog sit I’m doing right now is through Trusted House Sitters, so it’s the first time I’m hanging out with dogs belonging to people I don’t know. One is a little 13-year-old doxie who has the same pep and energy as Emily did, even in her twilight years, and today snuggled with me in bed while I recovered from my hike. She’s sitting next to me right now. She’s made me miss Emily, sure, but it also made me miss having a dog in my life.

I will probably be at the house with the dogs tomorrow night when that dreadful hour approaches because, while they’ve handled fireworks OK so far, I just want to make sure they’re really fine. But I don’t want to be in the house all day tomorrow. A run and maybe a bit of touristing in Denver is what’s called for, and then yes I’ll probably have a cry tomorrow night. It’s natural. That’s a big part of what this whole experience has taught me – in experiencing it and in sharing it in big ways and small. Losing my companion of 11 years, even if some people want to say she was just a dog, is the worst thing I have ever been through. I’m trying now to focus on the gift she gave me, which may be an odd way to say this but I’m going to say it anyway: she let me take this trip. I would not have been able to if she were still alive, and her passing in January gave me enough time to fall apart, form a plan, and start to put myself back together again when I left New Jersey on May 28.

She also gave me the gift of knowing that I can get through losing her, and starting over again with another four legged friend.

Now I just have to go out and find her.

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One Response to “On the Road with Jen: 6 months on, and ready for a new beginning”

  1. Tracey Deschaine says:

    I actually believe that is the purpose of dogs and cats. They teach us to love beyond ourselves, and then they teach us that we can, indeed, survive deep heartbreak.

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