At night, the dog begs her way up onto the couch and sets her mouth on a little fleece pillow covered with cartoon Yodas. At times, her needs are straightforward: feed the dog at nine and six, let the dog out every four hours or so, make sure the dog has water before putting her to bed. Other times, her needs are more complex, almost human in their ambiguity: the time she takes to sniff around the yard, snapping dandelions off their stalks with winking teeth; the nights when she paces the floor and stops to press her nose into the crook of my thumb, only to turn away a moment later, unsatisfied. All of the unassailable, wordless needs of her tiny doggie heart.
At these moments, I wonder if her adolescent bewilderment is somewhat like my own.
Lately I've been struggling with the twin hydras of art and worth. When you make the one, does the other follow? Does the first contain the second, nested in its core like a matryoshka, or do you find yourself twisting the final doll open to find nothing inside but empty air? And at the end of it all, why does it feel like the measured worth of a job well done is as mysterious and changeable as currency?
I hope the answer is kinder than I believe it is, on my darker days. I hope that worth is something like the smack of air in your lungs on a cool spring day when you're walking across the freeway overpass and the wind starts to blow. I hope that it's something like the the feeling of dancing with your puppy on the kitchen floor while your husband is out of town, when she is looking at you with her mouth pulled up in a pointy little smile and her tongue is flapping like a ribbon and suddenly you feel so joyful you could shout.
I can only hope that much is true. I think the dog does.