Norma Tennis and Caroline Crawford


Norma Tennis
“Eyes Closed”

Created using Caroline Crawford’s poem (below) as inspiration

By Caroline Crawford

“Wake me up,”
you said,
“I don’t want to sleep anymore.”

You asked me,
“Would you make sure I’m awake?”

You said,
“Please, bring me out into the sun.
Show me the view
From that hillside
That I’ve only seen from my window at night
When it’s dark purple and the sky is almost gray.
I want to know what the view is from there
When the trees are green and the sky is blue.”

You said,
“Wake me up,
Don’t let me sleep through another day.
Bring me out into the noonday sun
Let me see what I look like without a shadow.”

And I stroked your head until you opened your eyes
And I helped you get up
And I brought you outside
In the morning light
And I held your hand
And together we climbed the hill
Into the green trees
And together looked out into the valley
And to the next summit

And together we stood in the sharp, truthful light.

And then you lay face down in the grass and hid your eyes.
“It’s too bright,”
You said.
“Put me back to sleep.”

I replied,
“You’ll have to do yourself.”


Norma Tennis_INSP

Norma Tennis
“Lucky Dog”

Inspiration piece provided to Caroline Crawford

Off Leash
By Caroline Crawford

Maybe it was a cliche, Maria thought, but at this point, did that really matter?

The idea of getting a dog came to her last week, after she reached what she decided was the bottom rung on the sad ladder down which her recent romantic life had descended. Deciding to date again after that horrible breakup with Anthony had taken a lot of resolve–how humiliating that was to have had to call off two-year engagement after they’d put down the non-refundable deposits on Glennard the organic, localvore caterer, and the band, and the Coach Barn at Shelburne Farms.

Anthony had looked so good on the surface, so tall and lean and clever and accomplished with his Bowdoin pedigree and his CPA. She hadn’t known about he was gay until she found those e-mails with the caterer talking about love that had nothing to do with her and everything to do with Glennard’s evidently remarkable abdominals. If that wasn’t a cliche, what was?

Within a year, Maria had agreed to go out with one friend’s colleague, another friend’s brother, to try Match.com, to even peruse Craigslist’s personals (the above-board ones, of course). Each outing had its own disastrous punchline–she was glad she was a writer so at least she could turn the evening’s series of unfortunate events into an entertaining narrative for her friends to enjoy: the man who ate his mussels marinara with his fingers (and wiped them on his tie); the man who asked for a ride home and then asked to be dropped off at the corner near his house because his girlfriend didn’t like him going out without her; and the man who confessed that he shared her love of writing then revealed that what he loved to write was hardcore pornography.

So, it’s come to this, thought Maria. I’m a walking cliche–single, successful, 40, childless and lonely. My choices are Crazy Cat Lady or Devoted Dog Lady. I’m getting a dog. The dog will be neutered, so no surprises there, and we can run together and it won’t come up with excuses, and it will go for walks, and it will be happy when I come home, and I can serve it the same thing from a can for dinner every night and it won’t complain.

But now I’ve got to find the right dog, she realized. What’s the right dog? Every friend had an opinion. You’ve got to get a Golden, she was told. I have just the breeder. Don’t get a puppy. You must get a puppy. Get two dogs. Get a dog and a cat. Get a greyhound. Get a pug.

She started looking around Oakledge Park at what the the folks who looked like her, or what she hoped she looked like, were walking, or running, or swimming with. Chocolate labs, black labs, yellow labs were everywhere. Good dogs, yes, but did she want a dog like everyone else? She met an Australian shepherd named Bowie who had no tail and sweet eyes. A Burmese mountain dog tried to herd her during a run on the bike path–kind of charming but that would get annoying soon enough. A Jack Russell dove into her duffel bag while she was getting ready to play tennis and ran off with two tennis balls in its mouth. She liked its spirit but not the fact she was out two new Dunlops.

She had to get it right, she told herself. It was time she made a decision that she got right. She took the “What’s the Right Dog for You?” quiz on iVillage, then on DogFinder.com, then on Facebook, and came up with three different answers (pug; chow; Great Dane). She called up vets and asked them which dogs had the most problems, and the least problems. She looked at Craigslist again, this time surveying the ads to see which dogs owners seemed most eager to give away and which dogs had owners describing themselves as heartbroken to have to part with their pups.

I need company, she thought, that’s just going to be happy to see me. I’m tired of trying to get it right. I just want a companion, a reliable, loving and devoted friend who needs me.

Which is why, after too much conversation, and too much looking at others, she found herself one early Saturday morning, without telling her friends, or her mother, waiting at the door of the Humane Society, listening to the sound of eager barking inside.

There’s nothing I can be sure of in there, she thought. No papers, no promises, no guarantees. I don’t know what I’m getting into, other than someone else’s mistake, or someone else’s loss, or someone else’s lack of judgement or foresight.

It was a sobering thought.

But somehow, she thought, that’s just the point. Somehow, this time, I just might get lucky.

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