The orange puff-dog of happiness

Sometimes I think about the little dog at the furniture factory.  I lived off a narrow dirt road in Phnom Penh, about the width of an alley but lined with open-air shops and shacks. One was a furniture workshop, where young men worked all day with paper masks over their mouths. They shaped beautiful glossy, red-brown headboards, chests and tables of tropical wood, every piece heavy as marble.  When I walked by they looked up from their lathes and stared over their red-tinged paper masks.

The little dog maybe used to be white or cream or tan but now it was a streaky orange, tinted the same as the furniture. Mostly it slept or just looked bored, but sometimes its puff-tail wagged when people passed.

Walking down that narrow road felt intrusive, like stepping through backyards and bedrooms. People stopped talking. Bloody meat and fly-covered fish in the market stalls seemed too close. Half-dressed itty-bitty kids shouted “HELLO!” and followed until it became a mini-parade.  I couldn’t reconcile “Hi, let’s be neighbors” with “Sorry for being a space alien, can I just get home?”

It was especially bad because that’s why you go new places, right? To meet people and become part of a new fabric? Guilt-guilt-guilt.

But sometimes after a long, hot, awkward walk I’d turn around and find that little puff-dog at my heel, wagging its puff-tail.

Back at home now, months later, I think of that alley, and the furniture factory and the little dog. I wonder if it is ok being wood-stained or if it misses being white or cream or tan. And I think about how happiness sometimes sneaks up that way. A hot day. A long walk. But when you get to the main road, you see that some weirdo scrappy guardian has been at your heel the whole time, disguised as a freakin’ end table.

6 thoughts on “The orange puff-dog of happiness

    1. Thank you once again for the kind feedback, Lisa! I just found your earlier comment and can’t believe i missed it until now: I LOVE that I got to meet you on the beautiful shores of Lake Atitlan and that we’re still in touch. Your comments have been inspirational in all the right ways.

    1. Thank you SO MUCH sis. I was just catching up on your blog and absolutely love it every time I read it. WRITE MORE OFTEN 🙂 xo

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