Stranger, Danger?

You’ve made it once again to the weekend Travellers,

Here’s how my morning began…at 6:14 AM I was awoken from a deep sleep by the sound of retching…it seemed loud, really loud and masculine and yet distant… I thought of Charlie, maybe it was a hairball situation, because the sound of puking is not foreign in my house full of furry, animals domesticated predators, who don’t always make good choices with what they put in their mouths (I’m looking at you Ramona..)

You know how when you are suddenly jolted from sleep, you’re not fully here, you’re still somewhere back down the rabbit hole of slumber, so your sense of “what the fuck is going on” is deeply inaccurate? That is exactly what happened…

I stumbled from bed and realized the noise was not emanating from my home, but it was outside. Seemed to be on my patio…I slyly peaked out the blinds and THERE IS A MAN? And my first thought is, how the hell did you get in my fenced backyard? Then Lou started barking at the window like a crazed animal and he sort of looked up and it was the look of a dumbfounded lost soul…I then wandered window to window peaking out watching him go to my gate and fumble to get it open and leave…he couldn’t even lock it back…that had to be the way he got in as well because my other gate is bungeed to keep the dogs from performing a Houdini of their own. That gate was not disturbed…

Let me interrupt here with a little message to those of your I like to call the concerned citizens brigade, AKA my family and friends, HE DID NOT ATTEMPT TO ENTER THE HOUSE IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM. DID NOT TOUCH THE DOOR OR THE WINDOWS..WE ARE FINE…PUT THE PHONE DOWN, DO NOT CALL 911!

Okay, so Lou and I advanced  thru the house, room to room, watching him lumber thru the front yard down to the street. I know what you are thinking here, DRUNK, am I right? Because that’s what I thought. In the 12 years I’ve lived here, never had an incident. Oddly, I didn’t feel scared or threatened in the moment I saw him even, because something seemed off. And it’s probably because of my job and exposure to people with disabilities that I would even consider this, but the way his gate was altered and there was this uncoordinated swinging in his arms while stomping in his feet that was not natural, but not drunk. He reminded me of an elephant and how they sway at times, but there was no grace here. He meandered down the street, stopping and looking at a few other houses, no attempt to go into them but it was like he was lost. And like he couldn’t discern his location.

It got me thinking about our society and how we treat people who are disabled. How we tend to lead with fear and disapproval when it come to the developmentally different. All of us have our moments where we could do better with these things. I have a neighbor down the street with a disabled son. Something about him reminds me of Eric Stoltz’s character in the movie “Mask” but without the facial deformity. Something is his general construction maybe, I think it’s the hair, age and something about his face. Except he can’t speak. When the ladies and I walk by, he always seems to become excited to see them just passing by. Not in the way I would show happiness, but in his way, rapid fluttering movements and noises and he sort of smiles. I always wave and he seems to know I’m waving, his mom always says hi. It always kind of breaks my heart. The stranger reminded me of him. And as I watched that man travel away down the street, I kept thinking I hope you find your home again, I hope they are looking for you. Because I’ve never seen him before and I’ve walked this whole neighborhood for years.

When we adopted Charlie my vet said the most magnificent thing, because I was concerned about Lou accidentally harming him. She’s not an attack dog, but as I mentioned we are working on allowing all the feelings and choosing better behavior. Anyways, he said that my other other fur kids wouldn’t recognize or acknowledge that he was different in any way. They wouldn’t treat him differently because he was missing a leg. It would be a non-issue. That seemed like the most wonderful thing I had ever heard. And it has been true, they never treat him any differently and I’m not even sure that he knows he’s missing a leg.


Growing up with my Grandfather bound to a wheelchair from MS, I never believed he was less than anyone else. I don’t think I ever really really understood the gravity of that situation until I was much older. Charlie is named after him because my grandfather was a determined soul unlike any other I’ve met in this life. I try to always think of him when I meet other people with disabilities. Doesn’t mean I don’t stumble, but I do try. This is actually one thing my mom did right, she raised me to believe that people with perceived limitations are not always limited. She always said to remember how lucky I am to have been born without those issues. And she very kind to people who were afflicted in any way.

If I hadn’t been in my PJs this morning, I probably would have tried to help that man because I searched the yard for a vomit puddle and there was nothing. I think he was at the back door of what he thought was home asking to be let in. I think the sound I mistook for drunk puking was something else. Yes, I could be wrong, but all evidence suggest this was not an intruder but a lost soul. I wish him God Speed to wherever he belongs and it reminded that no matter how different a person may seem, underneath there is something just like you searching for home.



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