Hazelnuts and Heartbreak

We meet, as planned, outside the train station. It’s an average Wednesday in August in the middle of what’s been a pretty rough year.

I’d been tossing around the idea of adopting a rescue dog from a shelter towards the end of the year, once my life had stabilized a little. I wasn’t ready yet, emotionally, financially, logistically.

And yet there I was, crouching in the street, falling in love with a German Spitz who was in need of a home.

Afterwards, I couldn’t sleep, a combination of adrenaline and awful nightmares stealing the night away from me.

In the morning, I was decided. Noisette needed a home and I had one, even if the timing wasn’t ideal. But come Thursday morning, I learnt that there was a couple who were also interested in the dog.

A couple, two people, twice as many hands and hearts and time to take care of him, almost certainly a bigger apartment. It was obviously in his best interest to live with them.

And yet.

All Thursday morning I couldn’t concentrate. I felt this awful, heavy sadness that I couldn’t shake off. The last thing I felt like was going for my lunchtime run. I trailed after the overly enthusiastic crossfitters for the first shared kilometre and grunted out loud. I ran, the fine drizzle of rain insufficient to hide my tears. I cried because I no longer trusted my intuition. The smallest of decisions tormented me, exhausted me. I no longer knew what was right or good, or how to get there. So I’d retreated, more or less. Into myself, into running, into endless pen scrawls that would never be read. I’d decided that in the absence of clarity and direction, and a sound internal compass, I’d do damage control. Limit the blast radius. Make do with unsatisfying interactions rather than run the risk of hurting anyone else.

I’d done enough damage for one year, I esteemed.

A week earlier, I’d come across this quote from Louise Erdrich:

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”

That night, I lingered in the bar with friends. Aimless, distracted.

“You know he looks a lot like the dog in that old photo of you,” one of them says.

And I can’t believe I didn’t see it before.

Noisette, despite being a different breed, bears a striking resemblance to our beloved childhood Sheltie, Chloe.

And that’s when I know.

Maybe healing isn’t the result of a slow, carefully curated process. Maybe solitude and silence aren’t the only mediums to find peace. Maybe bottling up your love lest it end up hurting someone is the greater crime.

Maybe, sometimes, when you’re busy looking everywhere and nowhere for meaning; life sends a mischievous, overly vocal, orange fluffball barreling into your pristine apartment and organized life and you have no choice but to open your arms, and your pantry, (and your wallet) and your goddam heart and say: ‘FINE. I FUCKING LOVE YOU, OKAY?’



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