At the park, it takes me a while to calm down. I wish I wasn’t upset at all. Nothing upsetting happened—or nothing that should be upsetting. At the picnic table the paper bag that once contained my sandwich almost blows away in the wind. Runners, like rumours and bad feelings, are going in circles around the track. On the street before the entrance the man seemed bashful, the dog looked backwards at me, over his shoulder. No one can explain anything to a dog in a way that will stick. Perhaps I was a dog, for a long time, believing—or trying to believe—in a lightness and a possibility that had long been foreclosed (which is why I alternated that belief with anger). Reading about aversion, I unconsciously diagnose the last person I came into conflict with—I mean, the last time I regularly came into conflict. In the book it is said that a pattern of aversion can lead to disengagement, rebelliousness, anger (which are strategies in themselves). I see my own methods. I see my failures. It’s hard to get through a chapter.
What do the others know? I’m sick of asking the question, and I’d like to leave it in the park with the waste from my sandwich, though I sometimes console myself imagining that the ways I was misled, the empty mollification, the gentle and loving tone, the demands for comfort and reassurance, are unknown (to all but one person) on that side. I think I must feel the need to justify that I was hurt—sadly, that’s obvious. What do I have to say to a dog, anyway? Even if his absence from language (or at least its more complicated forms) means I still want to ruffle the back of his neck. Perhaps it’s that I felt like a dog being told what to feel, and if that’s true I should find a way to scratch myself. Oh, I’m trying to—dreams of a binder clip that was passed lightly, as a gift. Fantasies of some final repair. And then an encounter which jerks me awake. I want some confirmation that I wasn’t alone in it. I want to know I wasn’t just a dog in a cage I didn’t see. But I can’t count on anyone else to tell me.