Every day I leave for work and drive past a man walking his husky. It’s an equanimous vision of morning communion, out of place on potholed Quebec, out of place beside drive-through liquor stores and subsistence desperation. He’s always in sweats, the dog always larger than life with haunches rolling beneath a foot of thick fur.
Every day they walk. I imagine them walking into the forest into the snow and disappearing as a frost shadows.
Every day they walk. I imagine what kind of quiet camaraderie they share. If the man whispers into the dog’s ear as they step back inside and wipe mud from foot and paw. If he says, “Good boy.” If the dog pants appreciatively.
Every day they walk.
Every day I drive by. A learned compulsion. But a compulsion nonetheless. This routine lives in the cold light of morning like the forcefully extroverted cousin of my deeper routines. The routines of compulsion in its purest form. Crystallized at the bottom of a highball, precariously caught on the edge of a nightstand. An intricate, lovingly maintained web of obsessive thoughts.
Every day I drive by. Every night I relearn the patterns of the ceiling as three decades’ worth of awkward actions are revisited, sifted through, and curated. Curated, fed, and clothed until they can live on their own. My thought babies, the children of anxiety and an overactive imagination.
Every night I rendezvous with my progeny and have the same conversation. My darlings never tire of the topics, but neither can they answer the essential and eternal questions.