Dog walking is a big deal in San Miguel, almost a status symbol. Pockets of people gather daily in multiple locations to give their pets the ‘pack’ experience of running, playing, growling, fighting, panting, competing and, of course, taking care of their bodily needs in public.
Their tongues are hanging out, feet covered in mud, racing after one another, not certain what to do once one of them is tackled, rolling in the dirt attempting to assert their position in the dog hierarchy.
They remind me of 9-year-old boys rough housing, wrestling, exhausting themselves before collapsing to the ground to rejuvenate before another round of scuffling. Their activity does spark a memory of our human need to interact, connect, talk to, and touch others. I’ve spent the past year-plus talking to myself, arguing with myself, and comforting and boring myself, I’m not certain how to act around people now. My social skills have taken a dive, and I’m fearful I will be either boring or rude. I do glorify my past ability to communicate, thinking I was both entertaining and socially engaging.
My doglets don’t care if I’m boring or rude, they don’t know the difference and if they did, they would not pay any attention to me anyway.
But humans may be more discerning, or at least more sensitive to my disjointed story lines. I’ve tried to practice interacting by talking to myself in the mirror, but that distracts me. I keep seeing my eyebrows need plucking, or my glasses need cleaning, or my hair needs another dose of pink coloring, all disrupting my self-talking exercise.
I’m left unfocused, disoriented, and losing my train of thought leading to any cohesive dialogue. All I hope is whomever I may be talking with will be as looney tunes as I am as they too struggle reconnecting with another human being after this year of isolation.
The virus in Mexico is not as close to being under control as it appears to be in the U.S., but the ex-pat community is beginning to break out of their homes and once again surround themselves with those who have been vaccinated. Riding a bus is still chancy, but most of us will take a cab if the driver is masked, all the windows are down, and we are able to hold our breath for at least 2 minutes.
Thus far, I have been able to take my dogs for a walk with other canines and their owners without any fist fights, yelling matches, or insulting mutterings. Perhaps watching our pets do all of those things reminds us we can be more civilized. That is, until I land on my backside when the dogs dash through my legs upending me. Suddenly I am screaming obscenities as though I am in the privacy of my home, forgetting about being polite or socially acceptable.
I still need practice being in the presence of others.