Some things never change. Those things don’t exist in New York.
I walk down Columbus Avenue with the dog pulling against the leash, racing past drunks and couples and the old man who lives downstairs. We blow through the intersection, the dog frantic now, practically sprinting forward and forward and forward through the city. We get to the pet store, and she tries to go in. It’s one in the morning, I tell her. It’s not open. She wags her tail, an act of naïveté or defiance.
(Three years ago I ran down Avenue A drunk and bewildered and reaching out for everything and anything and waiting for someone to watch me fall. By the time I hit 8th Street, he was there, of course. I was running to him in some sped-up tragicomedic scene playing out in the movie of my head.)
The wind picks up and the dog’s ears blow back slightly. She whines and paws at the pet store. I gently tug at her, and then use a bit more force to try and yank her away.
The kids at the bar smile. They are outside, waving around cigarettes and hunting down cabs. One of them approaches the dog, already on his knees. She ignores him, desperate to go inside the pet store. The guy could be my age, but from the crowd at the bar, I assume he’s younger. His jeans are tight and torn. He pets the dog’s head and scrambles away, his cigarette stuck against his bottom lip, his tail between his legs. The dog looks away.
We begin the slow walk home, across the avenue, to our apartment. She will eventually lie down on the corner of my bed, her head pressed up against my ankles, the same happy-sad expression on her soft, sleeping face.