…Under the Influence…

“Hey, guess what?” Keller says as we briskly walk down the sidewalk away from the meditation center. He slides the side door of his Vanagan open with one muscular whoosh, then reaches quickly down to a shiny, new kennel and opens the latch. A soft, black and brown puppy bounds out of the kennel, landing in my lap and licking my hand eagerly. “I’m going to have her trained as a Therapy Dog so she can come to work with me and work with the clients.”

“What’s her name?” I ask while wrestling my fingers free from the puppy’s pointy-toothed nibble.

“gg with no space between the letters and all in lower case,” Keller quickly describes. “Yeah, gg, gg, that’s right. Oh, you’re a puppy, oh yes, good girl.”

I watch in amazement as Keller melts into a puddle, cooing with the dog and nuzzling her face to his chest. His outdoorsmen-callused hands run along gg’s back with silky ease. It is as if the mark of every mountain he’s chipped an ice hold on to summit, every rapid he’s steered through in Nepal, every limb he’s wittled into a set of spoons have slackened their biographical grips to allow this man to pet his dog with striking gentleness.

We sit half in the Vanagan, half on the sidewalk, gg wagging her tail as if it were magnetized to some eternal orbit. Once we get through the “How ya’ doin’s,” our conversation builds. There is the psychology of hiking, the psychology of sexuality, the spread of cancer, the summer plans, the decision to attempt a rendezvous next weekend. And even though I am keeping emotionally distant from this, sitting there staring at Keller’s expressive face, his cool play with the new puppy, his mysterious cough-laugh, his flawless muscularity, all of it, draws me into the sensuality of this man. This man, the same who seems subsconsiously insistent that he does not need anything from anyone, appears softer to me under the blessing of this puppy.

There is a sweet little lean-in kiss goodbye followed by a warm hug that is interrupted by gg’s yip-bark and I walk away, waving a quick au revoir and skipping a little at the great fortune to experiment.


Sunset clouds traverse the sky in two dizzying layers, one skidding suspusciously quickly, the other light and easy; picturesque. A joint for the first time in two years and sweet heaven of grass, I could sink into a feather bed of easy love and full moon nights. Each bodily cell like some planetarium universe, each hair now a speckle of sensation, the horsey buzz of a mosquito like the sweet symphony of spring in my ear; tanglewood. We eat stir fry like herbivorous beasts of the mountains, giddy with the crunch of carrot, the glisten of soy sauce, the invention of the hand-crank sea salt shaker. Later, the echo of an acoustic guitar solo flying through slick Bose speakers, like sap running down a tree, seductive like the amber flow. Vic clanks in the kitchen, rice kernels sticking to the bottoms of her bare feet like snowflakes born backwards, pushed up through rustic paleolithia, formed by absorbing the moon’s wild blue light through the soil, then blossoming dirty white on the floors of our kitchens, homes across the world collecting the soft patters of toes for some bio-earth-ical performance.

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