Oh, NOLA. How you have tested my love for you this week.
Our beloved Saints have been caught behaving most un-Saintly. (Really, guys, thanks for putting a bounty on extreme violence. In this city. Such role models.)
My wonderful Treme neighbors are embroiled in a most un–wonderful zoning war in which the minor cuts of hurt feelings have rapidly deteriorated into the gaping wounds of severed friendships.
And, then, Wednesday morning brought the news that NOLA crime increased across the board last year, with murders up 13.7 percent, rapes up 13.2 percent, and armed robbery up 12.6 percent. (An increase that our orange hexagon of a superintendent, Ronal Serpas, saw as proof positive that trust in the NOPD also was on the rise. Uh, I’ll have what he’s having.)
It’s been such a lousy week, dear New Orleans, that I woke up yesterday wondering if our 18-month honeymoon was over.
Then, I rolled over in bed.
And saw Tyra Banks. Lying horizontal on top of the duvet cover. Rear-end pressed firmly into my left thigh.
And I knew NOLA and I would be just fine.
I’m not talking about Tyra-mail Tyra Banks.
I’m talking about my 6-year old Scottie named Tyra Banks.
You see, like me, Tyra has had her disappointments with New Orleans. She calls them the months of May, June, July, August … and September (and occasionally October … and April).
Tyra first set paws in New Orleans on August 15, 2010. Blissfully unaware of what was to come, she had awakened that morning in Boston, where it was 60 degrees with a crisp wind that smelled of the sea.
Six hours later, Tyra’s paws were on the pavement of the Jax Brewery parking lot. It was 6,000 degrees with a stinky, steamy breeze that reeked of armpits, beer and urine. Ears back and tail down, Tyra looked at me with a “we’re not in Boston anymore” pant that would have made Dorothy cry.
But you know what? She got over it. Goldie at The Pet Asylum shaved under her arms (Who knew Tyra Banks had hairy pits!?!?) and Tyra was good to go. She was not about to let a little 110-degree heat index get in the way of discovering the scents of a brand new city.
I remembered the story of Tyra and her pits yesterday morning as she rolled over to snort and paw and nuzzle up against me. (It’s her one sweet gesture each day. Yes, the rumors are true. Tyra Banks is a biatch!).
I also remembered why so many of us cherish having dogs.
Because dogs remind us of the joy that comes when you release yesterday’s disappointments in order to make way for today’s promise. Tyra may have gone to bed last night bummed by the feral cat who took a swipe at her, but she woke up this morning renewed in her firm conviction that cats actually want to play with her (no one said supermodels are bright).
Dogs remind us that the simplest things can turn the most lousy day around. Tyra absolutely comes undone when Charbonnet Funeral Home brings their gorgeous horses down my street for a jazz funeral, but she’s over her hysteria the moment I utter the simple, monosyllabic word “treat.”
Finally, dogs remind us of the infinite peace that comes when you go beyond the faults and failures and even betrayals to that place where you love … and are loved … unconditionally. Tyra’s been through a lot with me. I’ve taken her from the cool heaven of Boston to the humid hell of New Orleans. I’ve accidentally locked her outside after particularly raucous stoop nights (don’t worry, not for long!). And there have been days when writing (or hangovers) have meant that instead of a long walk to the river she gets only a “hurry up and puppy business” two minutes in the backyard. But she still loves me.
Now, I’m not trying to compare Tyra’s occasional disappointments with NOLA’s great challenges. The problems in this city are real, whether they’re in the Superdome, NOPD Headquarters or Treme.
But I am saying that, when faced with the cool flames of joy, simplicity, unconditional love and peace, those problems can be overcome. The honeymoon can go on.
And I can be grateful for the lessons I learn from sleeping with Tyra Banks.
Brett Will Taylor writes Love: NOLA weekly for NolaVie. Visit his blog at thestoryblogbwt.wordpress.com.