Anyone who knows me, knows that when I tell a story, I like to start from the beginning. So to tell you about my latest trip to Chattanooga, you guessed it, I have to start from the beginning. So here it goes:
In 2003, after a messy breakup from a an almost 3 year relationship, I found myself being a single dog/cat “parent”, without a place to live or even a bed to sleep on. My fairly new BFF came to my rescue and offered me a place to stay in her one bedroom apartment with her Japanese Akita dog lovingly named, Jade.
The tight living quarters posed many challenges. For one, my “bedroom” was actually the dining room and second, our dogs were having a super hard time getting along because of their conflicting personalities. Jade, due to her breed, is naturally stubborn, protective, and bossy while Gambit, for who knows what reason, knows he’s not the alpha dog, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to prove otherwise any chance he gets. So needless to say, there were many scuffles between my 50lb dog and my BFF’s 100+lb dog, but eventually, they learned to get along and became BFFs themselves.
Fast-forward several years and many countless memories and life changes later, and my BFF & Jade, have since moved from sunny Jacksonville, FL to Chattanooga, TN and last week I got the phone call that I knew would one day be coming in one way or another: it’s time to let her go. So with much sadness, but with much happiness for a chance to see her one more time, I started to plan my trip to Tennessee. My mind kept going back to just how blessed Jade was to have found my amazing BFF and just how blessed my BFF was to find such a wonderful dog like Jade.
Dogs are truly amazing creations. It’s not hard to imagine them as angels in disguise, whose sole purpose it is on this earth to give us companionship, unconditional love, protection, comfort and so much more. Most of my art work is based on both my first dog, Snoopy (he’s the blue & white dog in my Childhood series) and my current dog, Gambit. If you can’t tell, I have a very warm place in my heart for these wonderful creatures.
So as I prepared for my trip, I realized this was a good opportunity take OPERATION: Bring Art to the People with me on the road for a few Sneaky Love Art Drops, and not only would it be a good distraction from the reality of the visit but, a chance to share the love of art with the focus of the work being on: Doggie Love.
I selected a couple of my favorite works, loaded them & the dog into the car & hit the road. My first drop was at a rest stop somewhere along I-75 North about 2 hours south of Atlanta. As I got closer and closer to Chattanooga, the reality started sinking in again and I couldn’t wait to spend some quality time with my BFF & Jade, and as an added bonus her other BFF & her dog, Brinkley, also drove up and joined in on the get together.
That night, we all talked, we laughed, we cried, we ate, we took pictures, and we loved on the dogs, especially Jade. There were moments when we acted normal, almost as if we had forgotten exactly why we were all there, but then reality would strike us again & the mood would quickly change, but then one of the dogs would do something ridiculous and we’d be right back to laughing uncontrollably. It really was a bittersweet experience.
The next morning we took all the “kids” to the dog park and watched them frolic and play without a care in the world. It was sad though to see how differently the dogs played now compared to 10 years ago. There was less running, less fighting, but there was still so much love & happiness oozing from each of them that we couldn’t help but smile.
Then it was time to say our good-byes to Jade…
We were all numb afterwards, not really knowing what to say, how to act, it didn’t seem real. My BFF didn’t want to go home, she wanted to be distracted, so I suggested an Art Drop and she was all for it, but I have a feeling, if I had told her that I wanted to balance & rotate my own tires, she probably would of agreed to tag along just so she wouldn’t have to stay home. It was amazing how quickly we got distracted looking for the perfect spot to drop the piece, the excitement of trying to go unnoticed, and the exhilaration as we ran away from the scene of the “crime.” For a few minutes, we allowed ourselves to enjoy the present moment before we reconnected with reality.
The next day, I woke up early and started my journey back home with Gambit. Two hours into my drive, I got off at one of the first exits for ATL for the the final Sneaky Love Art Drop of my journey, where a super cool looking diner called the OK Cafe caught my eye, so I strategically dropped the last painting into some bushes for a random person to find. From that same exit, I refueled the car with gas, the dog with some water & myself with some coffee and hit the road again. As I drove down I-75 South, I reflected on my trip with an appreciation for the blessing that my BFF is on my life, for the blessings that our dogs are in our lives, for the moments and memories, both good & bad, that are made a little easier just by releasing the love in our hearts towards each other, whether it’s your best friend or a complete stranger. Our lives are short on this earth, we really need to live everyday with purpose, figure out what we were put here to do, and with a loving heart push through and get it done, help people along the way, never stop searching for wisdom & understanding and embrace every precious moment as the blessings come pouring in…