The last time I did this, I was walking through one town with only one dog. Now, I’m walking through another town with two dogs. Sometimes three, depending on the night of the week. Sometimes my girlfriend’s mother takes the other one with her to the ranch.
I’m currently going through the steps again, with another sponsor, because, well, this is what those of us in recovery who want to reach that next stage of development do: We continue working the steps. And the timing could not be any better for all that’s happened: I’m currently on Step 3: Turning, once again, my will and life over to the care of God as I understand Him.
Or at least making the Decision to. LOL. And at 5 years, 9 months, and 3 weeks sober, going through the steps for the fourth time, not surprisingly, my view on this step – indeed, on the whole Concept (or lack thereof) of God has, well, changed… rather dramatically from where it was almost six years ago.
And as always, I’m wondering… reevaluating… questioning… Pondering… All of it.
You might have noticed that “Or Lack Thereof” quip back there. Let me explain. It has been my experience that, the moment I think I have “God” figured out, “God”, like the obstinately beguiling contradiction that He is, changes Her modus operandi … Just Because.
So I gave up a while ago trying to figure out what I’m obviously not meant to figure out.
However, I’m still trying to figure out this thing called Life. (But then again, who isn’t?)
And because I’m still trying to figure out this thing called Life, I can’t help but at the very least, continue questioning this thing called God. Chris Cornell said it best: “You gave me a life – Now, show me how to live.”
Wouldn’t it be great if it were that easy, though?
Does anybody else wish for that text message? Does anybody else look for the “signs?” Does anybody else read WAY TO FUCKING DEEP into things, in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, what the Masters say is at least partially true? That this thing we call God does have a plan for us, And its better than we could come up with ourselves? Does anybody else feel like they’re playing the guessing game? Like life is a matter of trial and error with no instruction manual? Like when they’re asking the Big Questions, that the Universe does more of a game of “Red Light, Green Light” or a game of “Marco Polo” or “Hot/Cold” as its way of answering?
Does anyone else question this whole “God Thing”? And whether or not there’s really a Plan? And if so, What Our Part is in it? Does anyone else wonder what the point of All This is? Does anyone get really frustrated at the statement “You Plan, and God Laughs”? Especially because that really and truly feels like what happens? But then He’s not nice enough to cue you in on What the fuck it is You’re SUPPOSED to be doing? Does anyone else struggle with their faith – whatever that may be – and wonder sometimes if there really IS a divine intelligence behind everything?
Let me back up.
All the way to my Uncle/Boss’s Driveway in Georgia, during a smoke break on a rainy day. My roommate was moving out, and all my friends had been asking me what was I gonna do? Was I gonna find another roommate? If so, who? I had decided that, no, I was NOT gonna get another roommate, for the one I had was so good of a roommate, he spoiled me and I’d basically decided that I was never gonna find another roommate as good as him, so I wasn’t even gonna try (yes, I’ve got trust issues, I know this); besides, I wanted a dog, and I figured it was time to finally go on the market for one.
“Oooh, good idea,” my friends all said. “What kind of dog do you want?”
A Black Lab, I’d told them.
“Purebred Black Labs ’round here go for about $1300,” my friends all said.
Well, then I guess I’m not getting one.
And that was that. No trip to the pound, no research, nothing. Just… Whatever.
Until the foreman of our crew – who, I assure you I did not think of as a friend (and who, as a matter of fact, right up till about Round Three of Step Six I was secretly plotting his untimely fall off a roof he had pissed me off so many times) and therefore, had no recollection whatsoever of having even mentioned wanting a dog much less a Black Lab – turned to me, as we were standing there smoking cigarettes in my Uncle/Boss’s Driveway, looked up from his phone, and said:
“Hey, are you still wanting a Black Lab? My sister’s friend is a breeder and they’re just trying to find a good home.”
And that’s how Kipper came into my life. Kipper is the name given by my oldest daughter, who had also recently come back into my life after years of estrangement.
Flash forward one year, to when Kipper and I make our cross country trip out here to Southern California, to – you guessed it – reconnect with my kids.
Kipper, by this point, is 65 pounds – a good 15 pounds heavier than the maximum allowed by any apartment complex in the area. The game plan for where to live has of course been officially laughed at, placing me and my dog in a predicament where I’m about to work the system and get him registered as an emotional support animal just so I can keep him.
Then an apartment opens up that happens to be part of a house – with a massive back yard for Kipper to run around in. The landlord lives upstairs in the main house, has a Pit Bull that becomes Kipper’s best friend, and treats me like I’m a part of her family.
Something inside of me says, This is why God laughs, bruh. Because, as creative and intelligent as you are, you still haven’t got a clue.
I drop the carpentry to get back into restaurant work, on the basis that the schedule is more flexible, giving me more time to rebuild that bridge with my kids, as well as to work on my real goals and dreams, while not wearing me down physically the way carpentry did. I also have this magnificent idea that if I don’t put a cap on my income, if I leave it open to the universe, maybe I’ll actually make more money. I also have this magnificent idea that getting back into restaurants will allow me more social interactions with the human race.
Both of these ideas turn out to be the very reasons I end up kicking the restaurant to the curb after only 14 months, but that’s another story altogether. After only two months at the one location, I wake up and realize they’re not doing even doing enough business to warrant giving me the hours I need in order to make ends meet.
So I get a transfer to another branch.
Immediately, my income doubles, and, in short time, I prove my worth to the management to finally get the hours I need.
Unfortunately, this means Kipper is spending a lot of time at home all by his lonesome. My landlord, as wonderful as she is, starts letting him out while I’m at work so he can play with his best friend the Pit Bull, but this only happens when she herself is home and has the energy.
So I start feeling guilty that Kipper doesn’t have a sibling. Maybe if I get a second dog, he can have the company while I’m gone, and he won’t be so lonely.
So I start looking into it. The German Shepherd rescue center charges a ridiculous adoption fee. The Humane Society is overfilled with Pit Bulls, and while I know Kipper would get along great with one, even their adoption fee is out of my price range. A couple times, I fill out the adoption form, but don’t even get a response.
Maybe it’s not meant to be quite yet, I think to myself.
Meanwhile, the family that lives directly next door to me has a Corgi-Dachshund mix that they keep locked in the back yard that Kipper has already made friends with. They talk to each other through the fence like convicts on the yard. Conspiring.
And when I say “keep locked in the back yard”, I mean it. He stays there, alone, with no human interaction except when my landlord or myself drop some love and kibble through the chain link. Other than that, as far as I know, this poor little guy is neglected completely.
Time rolls on. At work, I’ve developed a friendship of sorts with this woman who I apparently, according to our coworkers, hover around like someone who’s already fallen in love with her at first sight. Pshh, yeah, right.
Apparently, I do however wear my emotions on my sleeve, because even she is like, “Yeah,dude, you’re like constantly staring at me every time I look up.”
Every time she’s running the window, I’m getting the most food run. I try playing it off like I’m just a hard worker, a team player, but apparently, if its anyone else running the window, I’m nowhere to be found.
Okay, you got me. She has coffee. And lets me steal sips of it. I’m totally using her for her coffee, I swear.
Anyway, long story short, our sarcastic jabs and witty remarks inside the restaurant slowly turn into longer conversations in the parking lot after work. And those longer conversations in the parking lot after work turn into Facebook messenger conversations that last past both of our bedtimes at home.
And that’s when I notice the neighbor’s dog has somehow gotten into my yard.
Remember that convicts conspiring on the prison yard metaphor? While I’ve been focusing on courting Camilla, and somehow by some miracle getting past all her defenses, Kipper and the neighbor’s dog have been communicating with each other through the fence, Kipper digging a tunnel from his side, and the Corgeenie digging a tunnel from his side.
Now, two things should be noted here:
1: My perception, at first, with my limited knowledge of dog breeds, told me this was actually a Chihuahua. (Shrugging Shoulders.) He sure looked like it to me. Same size, and facial features, all that. Even Camilla thought so. Chihuahua mixed with a Dachshund. A Chiweenie.
It was off this assumption, that, not knowing his real name, I started calling him Chapo.
Yes, after El Chapo, the notorious drug lord.
2: Kipper, being the big, clumsy, rambunctious, 65 pound black lab that he is, was absolutely going to severely injure this poor Chihuahua playing so roughly with him. This was most definitely not going to be a good match. No, Kipper needs a dog his size to play with.
Besides; this was the neighbor’s dog. Not mine. I couldn’t just take their dog, no matter how neglected he was.
I was wrong about ALL OF THIS, as I soon came to find out.
Chapo’s size mattered nothing to him. He actually wore Kipper down. For every toss and toggle and rough landing he got, he’d come back all the more playful. It was almost like he enjoyed being stepped on and tossed around. And the moment Kipper got worn down, Chapo was all over him, nipping at his ears, humping his leg, climbing onto his back… In the end, it’s safe to say Chapo made Kipper his bitch.
And that neighbor I expected to come looking? I would come home from work, and he had gotten Chapo and put him back in the yard, only to continue neglecting him. Like he wanted the dog to keep in the backyard, but that was it.
And every time I’d come home from work, Chapo would be panting and barking and wagging his tail…
And then I’d let Kipper out, and we’d start on our nightly walk together, and the next thing I knew, I’d hear Chapo’s nails click-clicketty-clicking along the pavement as he ran to catch up to us, having made yet another prison escape.
And he would follow us, without being on a leash, for the whole 2, 3 mile walk Kipper and I would do.
And then he would stay to hang out, until it was time to go to bed. He would come inside, and play with Kipper, and lay with Kipper, then whine up a storm when I sent him outside.
Realizing he would be stuck all alone in the back yard, I started letting him sleep over with Kipper.
The neighbor never came looking, until four or five days later when I’d come home from work to find Chapo locked in the back yard again, only this time the neighbor barricaded the tunnel with boards and sheet metal.
This didn’t stop Kipper and Chapo from getting together to devise another plan of escape, and of course, the moment they accomplished it, there Chapo would be, on my door step, smiling and wagging his tail and trying to hump Kipper.
Needless to say, it became apparent that This was the sibling Kipper was supposed to have, and there was no adoption process necessary, because Chapo had adopted Me.
Go where the love is at, right?
I told Camilla about the situation, when the Facebook Messenger had turned into texting and talking on the phone, and her response was the same: “You’ve absolutely been adopted. Do not let him go back over there.”
So I started letting him stay inside with Kipper while I was at work.
The neighbor never came looking for him.
When it came time to move in with Camilla, I at least gave the guy the option, told him what was up. He said he was just happy to know that Chapo was gonna be well taken care of.
So yes, I plan, God laughs, because, although I think I’m a creative genius, apparently I still don’t know jack shit, about what’s best for me, about what direction to go, about anything.
The restaurant served it’s purpose, too, apparently, as within just a few months of our becoming a couple, both Camilla and myself ended up quitting. I got back into carpentry, and she got back into school.
And God laughed, joyfully, mischievously the entire fucking time.
I started this post back in November. It’s now February 2. Life, man. Ya know?
I’ve since picked up my 6 year sobriety medallion, so I guess you can say I’ve finally graduated Kindergarten and entered the First Grade.
Chapo is currently on the couch, sleeping on his back next to Kipper. That little dog has gone from the cold dusty backyard surrounded by chain link fence to a plush couch surrounded by a two other dogs, and three cats. I’d say his world has grown a little.
And me? I can still remember the chain link fence as well.
And the crack motel.
So I guess next time you’re doubting whether the universe truly has your back, whether your Higher Power really and truly has your best interests at heart, and knows better than you do what path is most efficient, remember this story.
Next time you’re wondering if your prayers are even heard, remember this story – because even the prayers you thought you kept to yourself have been heard.
Next time you’re wondering if there’s a Master Plan, or a Grand Purpose, or at least a fucking Method to the Madness, remember this story.
Because yes, there is.
No, it’s none of your business.
Will it show up? Absolutely.
Will it be on your time? Nope. And for good reason too.
Will it be what you expected? Definitely not.
Will it be better than you could have ever possibly conceived with your puny little human brain?