I’ve listened to the fan all day. It sits in its corner, behind the worn leather sofa, continually blowing cool air at my sleepy companion, a massive Alaskan Malamute named Dante. His thick double coat is slightly bent against the strong draft, but his eyes stay tightly shut as he stubbornly clings to sleep. My own eyes seem heavy, but the stimulation from staring at a brightly-lit screen for most of the day keeps me focused. Floor-length windows line my 5th story apartment and 23rd street is just below me.
I’ve watched happy teenagers walk past in droves with handmade Salt & Straw waffle cones through the warm afternoon and into the evening. The last time I was there I remember thinking about that smell. The warm, sweet, luscious aroma of the cones being made right in front of you. I remember thinking that it was such a good idea for an ice cream shop to have such a smell to make you hungry for their odorless, succulent sweets. Disney does the same thing; walk down any main drag in their theme parks and the enticing scent of sweet treats is pumped through vents at you, tempting you and calling you. The teens walking along the light-strewn trees that line 23rd street don’t care about that though, they’re happy and laughing. They’re with their friends and loved ones, and they don’t’ have a care in the world. I’m happy too, but with a few more cares, I suppose. For a moment I almost wish to be sixteen and carefree, but then I snap out of it. I love not being sixteen. I wasn’t happy at sixteen like I am now. Happy. I glance back down to the street below.
It’s getting dark now, and traffic has begun to ebb along with the light. It’s almost 9pm but I can still see the mansions on the hill that overlooks this neighborhood. Old and elegant, they seem to silently disapprove of the noise and frantic bustle of Portland as they observe from the outskirts.
Dante sighs and rolls over onto his back, feet up and eyes still shut. He’s tired from the heat and from our morning excursion to the Wallace dog park. The past two days have been dreary and wet, but today the clouds had been blown out and the sun had made a tentative reappearance. After being cooped up for so long, Dante pulled me incessantly to the dog park. There he tumbled, chased and played with an impressively tall Great Dane named Maple, and later a 35lb Husky named Luna that had been born within a few days of Dante. I spent a while chatting with Luna’s owner, a bald, cheerful man with a pronounced French accent, and his daughter, an outgoing girl of around 13, about the differences in the two northern breeds. The duo spoke to each other in English, then French, then a mixture of the two. It made me miss the French class that I took in college, and subsequently the two weeks I spent in Paris.
Dante stirs and rises, slowly pulling his substantial weight from the ground as he makes his way over to his water dish. He drinks, then comes over to rest his white muzzle on my lap. A dotted trail of saliva and water droplets is left in his wake, and I feel the mixture soak through my jeans as he looks up at me. He is a gentle giant, prone to occasional bursts of manic energy, but mostly existing calmly with his sweet, quiet nature. He slowly turns and walks back to the fan to resume his nap. The fan drones on, blowing small tufts of Dante’s fur across the living room like tiny, soft tumbleweeds across a desert. Time for the daily vacuuming.