Getting Lost

It’s about noon and Burke is teaching in the bedroom. I get the dog’s harness on her and we step out into the hot day. Her tongue instantly curls into the ladle that tells me she doesn’t like the heat. Indeed, the sky is blue and deep, but the air is hot and not as cool as I want it to be in the shade. But as we have just moved to a new part of Prague, it is time to explore. It’s time to get lost.

Since I am the navigator on this journey, getting lost happens fast. Almost too fast. We pass a hotel where my friend works and then a Lidl. And then we’re in unknown territory. There are lots of flat blocks and an occasional sign for a shop. The sun is hot and so we wander into a small park and sit under a tree. I pour the dog a little bowl of water and we look around.

I don’t deal with ‘new’ too well. Never have. On the first day of school each year, I was baffled by this policy of simply changing teachers. Who does that? And just when I’d gotten used to the last one? Now, having bought a flat in an unfamiliar part of town, I am dealing with new every day. New shops, people, parks, grass, buildings. My stress and anxiety levels are at the same level as when I’m in a place I can’t leave and forced to listen to death metal. While my brain knows that this is a very normal, human and temporary reaction to a very normal, human temporary experience, my heart and soul are just pissed off that I put them into this position.

The dog and I look around. She sees none of her friends from Petřiny – the grumpy old dachshund, the two poodles, the blind retriever, the chihuahua whose tongue is always hanging out of the side of her mouth. I see nothing that I recognize. The foxtails that are eating up Petřiny grass isn’t here, and while there is nothing wrong with them, the streets and green lots here have yet to provide the same comfort that they did in Prague 6.

I hand over a cookie to the dog. In a mutual state of glum, the dog and I agree that noon-thirtyish is not too early to visit a pub. So we get up and make it our passive goal. The dog is panting, so I pick her up and carry her as though she is Shihtzuvian royalty. I pass a woman and she smiles and addresses the dog. She comments on the queenliness of (I hope) the dog. But, hey, who cares.

“Ahoj Maisy,” she says.

I realize that we have met. She has a Jack Russell named Maggie and we shattered some of their calm time a day ago while they were resting on a bench in the park. We chat and then we go on our way.

There are no pubs on our walk, so we head to a little place on the pedestrian way behind the flat. The woman says hi to the dog and asks if I want a Becherovka with my beer. My look tells her all the information she needs. One of the patrons gives me an ‘ahoj’ and a nod.

Here, the trees cover us up and we get cool and I feed the dog water and blueberries while I drink beer and we watch the people at the unemployment office next door to the pub. Some of them were there the day before. Some of them were having the same meltdown the day before. I recognize some of the passersby, some of whom give me a wink or a hi. The checkout woman from the Penny, the bartender who reminds me of a Czech Sandra Bernhard, the cafe owner with the (alternating) wonky eye, the guy who pushes himself around in his wheelchair with his feet. After an appropriate time of recovery, we head home and make chicken.

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