It’s a New Year, and, though I’ve only done this once before, welcome to my New Year’s post.
When I was young, I lived in Newcastle. We had a game we always played in Newcastle, which was called, “dump us!” Getting dumped has become a recurring theme in my adult life as well (amiright!), but back then, when I was just four years old, getting dumped was the best. So good in fact, that we begged to be dumped nearly every day.
How it worked was: Mum, Dad, my two brothers and I would pile into our car to travel somewhere. Inevitably, we’d become pains in the neck, warring in the back seat. Mum or Dad would threaten to dump us if we didn’t shut up, which worked for a while.
Until one day, when my brother piped up: “Dump us, then.”
What a little prick, right? He knew they wouldn’t do it.
Except that they did.
Now, a word in defence of my parents: we were around the corner from home. And they dumped all three of us together. And all that happened was that we raced the car home, trying to beat it. Which we did, because Dad trailed behind us.
After that, “Dump us! Please Dad, dump us!” became a common refrain in the car.
One day, after Dad dumped my brothers, they were running home, and a strange stray dog trotted after them. It was a crossbreed, maybe a bull terrier and ridgeback, maybe something else. The dog followed them and Dad’s car all the way home. Dad ended up getting out to look at the dog to check for a collar and who might own it, when he noticed something unusual.
The dog was missing a hind leg. This dog, that had trotted after my brothers home with perfect balance and gait, only had three legs. And no collar, or any other identifying marks. We had no idea who the dog was, where she had come from, or who she belonged to.
“She’ll run off home,” Dad said. But she didn’t.
After a while, Dad went next door to show our neighbours this amazing dog with only three legs.
“I’ve named her Tripod,” he said proudly. The neighbours realised immediately that they had to rescue Tripod from a debilitating lifetime of Dad’s ill-advised jokes, and promptly adopted her.
Eventually, Tripod fell in love with a boxer dog, they had a litter of puppies, and she and Boxer Dog lived happily ever after at our neighbour’s house.
I was pondering Tripod over Christmas and the New Year. Here was a dog, who had suffered a trauma, a trauma so great that something critical to her life was amputated, lost, gone forever. A missing piece. A piece, once so important and relied upon, a piece that provided direction and guidance, balance and strength, was missing and it was never coming back. Tripod was never going to be the dog she once was.
And still, she put her feet in front of her, learned to run again, and lived a life. When I think about Tripod, I think about the hardships and difficulties in life, the tragedies of this year, personal ones, political ones and ones occurring on scales far grander than seems at all fair. And I think about getting up, learning to walk again, always with one piece missing.
Happy New Year.