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It's Nelly's World

Doors and Windows

alec vanderboom

Here, this moment, at the swimming hole on the rocky banks of the Esopus, I look up to the mountains rising starkly all around, and suddenly I see that the world is painted in love. I am alone in this green and gray, and I drip water from a swim in the fast current that makes a poor man's Endless Pool (TM). Nelly has finished screaming for me on the shore while I am but five feet out--she likes me, as we have established, but not enough to get her feet wet--and is off trolling the waterfront for dropped Cheetos crumbs (now that the last family has left just as we arrived, and with them their hopeful picnic hamper and garbage bag). She has found every molecule of foodstuff among an acre of rocks, and nameless bits of inedibles as well.

The world looks like love to me now because yesterday I rode a Moto Guzzi again, at last. My Moto Guzzi. It does not seem possible that that lovely silver machine, sinuous curves and engine block that holds up its two arms as if to the sky in hallelujah (look to your cylinder heads!), is mine. But it is. It has both come back to me out of the past, and points toward a new future that I cannot yet know. A good thing, not to know what surprises lay ahead. (Yeah, duh, or they're not surprises, are they? Or life?)

I had put my hand out in the darkness, grasped something, and now see diamonds in their unnumbered spill falling from my fingers.

As sultry evening comes down, alone on the rocky banks of the Esopus, I feel unalone, and rich.

On my office floor at this moment is spread a large map of the United States. That, too, will soon be mine (the real stuff beneath the skin of the map, I mean). And similarly, I will not believe it until it arrives: the day of leaving, of slipping the clutch. Guzzis gave me something for this, too, although I will be on the big BMW for the long trip and big load: a great new friend to ride with, funny and kind and capable and a hell of an elegant rider. I am hoping he will lead, just for the pleasure of watching him ride. And, I confess, for his GPS.

I don't know why things turn out the way they do. But sometimes, it seems because it is that they must. It's analogous to what Nelly's trainer said long ago, when I was tight with frustration over her recalcitrance to civilized behavior: "You get the dog you need." I needed Nelly to teach me tolerance, acceptance, and the grace that both confer. I am still trying, every day, and that is the perverse gift I also could use.

The things that happen are the things you needed to have happen. The terrible, and the good that comes reeling out of it, like silk ribbon. It can take time, but it always, always comes.

This weekend during the festivities in which the sweet Lario came home to me, I found myself looking down at my wrist. There was the bracelet that is now my favorite. I saw it many years ago, and requested it for a present. I said it represented something I dearly wanted to believe, though I did not fully understand it, or need it, then. "When a door closes, a window opens," it reads. How could I have known then that a door would slam, and it would take me a long period of staring at a hole in the wall, sill and frame and sash raised high, before I could see what it was?

The window, opened wide. For me to go through. I stand on the other side, and turn back to look.