¶ Prompt from Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write.
1. My first pet dog
2. The sun and the beach
3. My first kiss
4. Walking around New York City
5. The pleasure of brewing tea
This exercise calls for you to write a list. Number from one to five. Then write down five things that you would like to write about but you would consider too trite, too cliche, too sentimental. And then pick one of those and let yourself write about it, without worrying about being hip, without trying to act cool or nonchalant. Instead, this exercise allows you to simply be human for sixty minutes.
My first pet dog
Which wasn’t really just mine. It was always a family dog. Right: she, she.
Her name was Casia and everyone in the family loved her. She was a small black dog that to me at four and five seemed huge. She was my aunt’s first, and then my grandparents — in my memory — and there was once in the backyard of my grandparents’ house in Buenos Aires when I got so curious watching Casia eat her food that I approached her, wanting to pet her, reaching out. Casia turned around and snarled. I was scared. My mother had to explain how you don’t bother dogs when they are eating, and this remains one of those childhood lessons you never forget.
Another aunt adopted Casia, and brought her to Houston. My cousins loved Casia. She even saved a cousin’s life once. He ran out into the street, by himself, must have been just old enough to do so. And by the time my aunt realized, he was already in the middle of a residential intersection. She ran out as quickly as possible, and when she reach my cousin, Casia was already there, standing in the way of traffic. She must have been some sort of shepherd.
My family eventual took her in, where she spent the remaining years of her life. She would come with us on trips to the park for example, I remember, and walking through some thick woods in the park, Casia would disappear between the bush. I would worry, but my mother told me she would come back. And Casia would appear after a long while, right where we were on the trail, further along — always a surprise.
She had long soft hair, ebony black, and never gasped for breath when she breathed. She was always chill. Usually standing. She slept outside, but liked to be inside. She didn’t play fetch, or do tricks. She was a member of the family.
One day she passed away. It happened too long ago for me to remember. Maybe it was health, or poison, but who would poison a quiet pup… But I do remember that being an option according to the vets. She was old too. My memory gets a little hazy.
At a loss of words. Except to say after Casia my house mourned for a year. Then another puppy came, and then when I left for college my family got another dog. Now that dog is home, the other in doggy heaven, and a fourth dog wagging his tail at home — come and go, up and down, so much pleasure these divine creatives give. And now, home here in Brooklyn, my roommate’s dog keeps me company during lunch, sometimes I run him, sometimes I feed him. He is black and bulky but energetic and highly intelligent. He knows all the tricks. But when he looks at me with a cocked head and a closed lip smile, I can’t help but think of my first dog. The family Casia.