What is intimacy? What is the best barometer to register whether or not you have it? I’ll tell ya straight up. It’s the presence of poop.

If you can tell who’s been in the bathroom just by the smell, congratulations, you have intimacy.

You also need to buy some Simple Truth Odor Eliminator room spray which they sell at Ralphs. Awesome stuff.

Please bear with me. Or leave while pinching your nose. I’m sorry in advance. But I really do have something to say about what nonromantic intimacy is, it’s value (very high) and it’s price (very high).

I am an observer of the mundane. I suppose we all are, but I tend to really mull it over. And I’ve noticed that that which is the most meaningful to me, is bound up in physical, animal biology. The more I value something, the closer I seem to be to its turds. Let’s start with the dogs. And disclaimer. I am not, repeat NOT, going to get graphic. I am not a third grader. I want to amuse you and maybe goose you into alternate perspective, I don’t want to disgust you.

I pick up approximately half the poops pooped by my pooches. My husband picks up the other half. I am pretty sure I am more intimate with my dogs than with any other living creatures. They sleep in bed with us. Decaf, the male dog prefers to sleep between me and my husband with just his head poking out of the sheets just like a human. It’s so freaking cute. I marvel at it almost every day. I know I can reach an arm over and give him a firm snuggle and he will not resist. He is totally there for me. That’s intimacy.

The wedding of availability and trust, he is there for me without fear and I am there for him without harm. I know I can count on him. The price for this great gift? Poop.

If we lived in the woods or on a large tract of land the price would be cheaper, but I would still be responsible for his basic needs. It’s not so much that I have to actually physically deal with it (though as a city dweller I do) it’s that I am responsible for him and I can’t casually come and go from that arrangement. That’s where intimacy comes in, it’s the fruit of unbroken tending.

With humans, we can mostly skip this arrangement except with very young children, very old kin and the unlucky. I am not going to tackle all that now as I live with my husband and a 16-year-old. If I could keep all my doings in this arena utterly private I gladly would. I assume those with multiple bathrooms take advantage to protect each other from total intimacy. We only have one and so unfortunately, we often know much more about each other’s animal activities than anyone desires. But there is a positive flip side to this annoying lack of privacy and that is humor of being known. Humor is perhaps the best way to demonstrate you know someone. We know each other over here and it’s not underrated.

We bypass this specific level of intimacy with friends, which is precisely what is so great about friends. But poop is just a metaphor. The friends we know best, we’ve metaphorically passed by their recently used bathroom. We’ve seen them in tears, we’ve heard them yell and scream, we’ve felt annoyed by them and yet we don’t leave. Intimacy is access to the full range. Intimacy is knowledge of the full range. Intimacy is measured in the width of the barrier. If you can smell it, the barrier is quite thin.

Loyalty – How My Dog Inspires Me to Be a Better Person

Loyalty – How My Dog Inspires Me to Be a Better Person

My dog’s nickname is Buddy. I always say, you never have to ask where Buddy is because he is right there. He is under foot right now. As I type this sentence.

My husband first met Decaf at a dog rescue event in our local park. He and I were former cat people who had lived pet free for over a decade. We had been discussing, in a theoretical far-in-the-future way, that we might should get a cat for our son in a few years. Decaf was a very scared and anxious little fellow that nobody except my husband paid any attention to. I can’t understand this as I find him to be the most ridiculously handsome dog I have ever seen. It’s like if 22 year Brad Pitt had been at a singles event and no ladies could be bothered to look his way. Oh well! His pungent anxiety was our good fortune because it bought us time for the previously non-existent dog shaped holes in our hearts to grow to Decaf proportions.

Decaf is a super weird name for a dog and probably why I call him Buddy so much. We thought we would change it after the adoption but nothing felt right. He just was Decaf. It’s not entirely inappropriate. He can really relax, most especially if in direct proximity to people flesh. But being chill is not the first words a visitor would use to describe him. Like Hopper on Stranger Things, he is steadily growing into an irate curmudgeon. I am positive he would be a police officer if human. Very law and order. If a dog needs barking at from the balcony he’s gonna do it. Doesn’t matter that he was blissfully loved up in a couchy super snuggle before that husky had the nerve to walk past our apartment. No! Decaf is on duty, morning, noon and night! He has never and will never take a sick day y’all.

While his manic guard dog patrolling can get tedious, it also impresses me. He really cares about us. He is down for his pack. He is never ever going to skip out when the going gets tough. Before him I hadn’t experienced this level of unconditional love. My parents of course but dog love is different. You don’t have to navigate the past and the future with a dog. If it’s good now its good period. No guilt, no anxiety. No “what you did” or “who you should become“. Just be with me.

Do I demonstrate my commitment so clearly to the people I love? He’s made me reflect deeply on what it means to be there for someone. It’s not about how you are when you are with them, it’s being with them, period. Decaf inspires me to be more present, more forgiving, more protective, more affectionate and more honest. I fall short because I am a human, not a dog. But I am grateful to be studying with a master.