I was taking a brief break from an Althusserian-sized brain fart (think: utterly thought-halting…like, it took me five minutes to come up with the term “brain fart”), and I read a short blog about marriage. In the comments section of that short blog was a woman’s response to her motivation for dumping her baggage that was external to her marriage. She said she was reminded of an unattributed quote (although potentially received from a song of the same title by the Bellamy Brothers) which says that she wanted to be “the kind of person my dog thinks I am.” Like Annie’s when she hears anything out-of-the-ordinary, my head tilted to the side, and I suddenly became curious about what kind of person Annie must think I am.
Well, for one, she obviously sees me as her rescuer. That’s just a matter of course for shelter dogs. Milton looks at Robert with such devotion and gratitude–Annie gives me the same look. But what else does she see in me?
She obviously doesn’t see me as a fat woman. She doesn’t look at my body with disgust and revulsion. Even when she’s asleep, she wants to touch me with a toe or the tip of her nose.
She obviously doesn’t harbor any resentment or disappointment in my stilted approach to writing my dissertation. In fact, when I need to write on my laptop, she is happy to sit beside me or under my feet, as long as she’s nearby.
She obviously doesn’t judge my all-too-often decision just to stay in my work-out clothes all day because they’re comfortable. As far as she’s concerned, my comfortable clothes are comfortable for her, too.
She obviously doesn’t see me as lazy or inconsiderate. I’m not sure she even notices the piles of laundry that have accumulated, or the fact that it’s Robert who cooks dinner most frequently, even on “my” nights.
She obviously doesn’t judge my hair or the fact that I choose to wear it pulled back every.single.day. As long as I give her a good whiff of my hair straight out the shower, she’s happy.
She obviously doesn’t reject my training methods because I am a first-time puppy owner. As far as she’s concerned, I’m an old pro at this. She listens to my commands and respects them for what they are. (Plus, she knows she’ll get all kinds of kisses and cuddles if she follows my directions.)
To Annie, I’m a source of rules, food, cookies (sometimes, especially when we’re learning something brand new), affection (like really awesome tummy rubs), and shelter. To Annie, I am not my baggage. I am not someone with failures worth noting or someone who should be rejected on the basis of those failures.
Perhaps it would be fair to suggest, and I am not attempting to equate my husband to my dog, that Annie sees me in a similar way that Robert must see me. Before we got married–hell, even now I find myself saying this to him–I would tell him, “I just can’t see the woman that you see when you look at me.” And he would respond, “One day you will.” Same goes for Annie. I can’t see the woman that she sees when she looks at me. I don’t look in the mirror and think, “Wow. I am truly awesome, just like Robert, Annie, Milton, Callie, and Beatrice think I am!” (I would wager that most of us don’t do this when we look in the mirror.) Instead, when I look in the mirror (if I look in the mirror), I see the flaws, the failures, the need for improvement, the places to be corrected. I see the shortcomings, the self-disappointments, the rejections.
But I’ll tell you what friends, it’s a waste of my time. If I’m the only one who sees myself this way when I look in the mirror, then it’s a freaking waste of time.
And I’ll tell you another thing. In a couple of weeks, I turn 29. That means next year, I begin a whole other decade. The last time I started a whole other decade (literally 9 days afterward), our country was attacked and my sweet little world was a little bit more jaded and cynical. I feel like I’ve wasted a decade on cynicism and sarcasm (not wit, mind you–sarcasm is a poor second towit).
I will not spend the next decade, my thirties, rummaging through twenty-nine years’ worth of baggage.
I will be the person my husband thinks I am.
I will be the person my dog thinks I am.
I think you all would like her, if their opinion of her is any indication.