Walking Pettigrew is like dancing with a partner when you both want to lead.
Ever since I can remember, when I hear music, I see, in my mind’s eye, bodies dancing.
My father hung canvas curtains between the basement’s metal girders creating the first stage on which I strutted my stuff. As I got older, he partnered me in swing, first to Glenn Miller playing on our living room turntable and then at every family celebration that boasted a band.
In college, I danced with the boy visiting from another school to get the guy I was interested in to notice me. It worked. We dated for two years.
Post college and post breakup with a long-term boyfriend I embraced my newly single status by going dancing. My first partner led me into increasingly complicated steps. Following his lead, I sensed his surprise and pleasure, a startling intimate form of communication.
Pettigrew is my steady partner now and the neighborhood where we walk our dance floor. We circulate among the other walkers. Seeing friends we launch into a dizzying series of spins and twists, weaving over and under, the dance of the tangled leashes, before we extricate ourselves and continue on our way.
Sometimes we perform elaborate evasive maneuvers, sidestepping behind a parked car or pivoting 180 degrees and heading back the way we came.
Through the leash we communicate our intentions, moving in perfect synchrony to swing around a corner, power up a hill, or detour through a park. He claims the lead when we backtrack to check out a bush. I take over to pull him away from a tasty morsel he has spied.
Unlike a conventional partner, we share the lead, passing it back and forth. It’s our dance.
Our younger son wandered by and listened to me waxing poetic comparing walks with Pettigrew to dancing. He questioned whether the walks would be more accurately compared to a three-legged race where you both try to take the lead, but have to figure out how to walk together or else you’ll fall.
I’m sticking with dancing.