Those of you keeping score at home can't be faulted for having no idea where I am these days; the summer has been so fast and furious that you probably knew I was moving, and you probably got that I was in Cambridge (especially since I mentioned it by name), and then you probably didn't know what I was doing once I returned.

In late June, I moved into my excellent friends' house, along with all my worldly goods, in preparation for a year of living with their furry boy, who answers variously to Monty, Baby Monts, Montana (his actual full name, which they did not choose), the Monster, Sweetheart, and Large Dog.  We had a week in the house together before I left for England and a good ten days together once I'd returned. 

And now they've left for England.

They'll be living in the house that has the view you saw a few weeks ago, and I'll be living in their fabulous, perfectly sized (and air-conditioned) house in our village, so no one can feel too sorry for any of us on the living situation count.  But we're living an ocean apart--again, after only one year back together following my Cambridge year--and right now, that year feels as though it's going to be a long time.

I met my excellent friends when they were my teachers here in the mid-1990s.  I went to England for the first time on their first version of the study-abroad program that one of them is running this year.  They have both been nothing short of utterly formative influences in my life for fifteen years, and it's one of the pleasures of my adult life that I've gotten to become something like a formative influence in their lives, as well. 

I had been handling the transition back to living an ocean apart in fine fashion up until about a half-hour before their departure--which perhaps had something to do with the fact that we packed the newly clean trunk of my car right about then.  Suddenly it hit me: I wasn't going to be living in their house with them.  And the dog wouldn't understand, for a little while (or ever), what had happened to them.

Somehow I staved off most of the ugly cry until after I returned from the Cleveland airport without them.  But the dog's all-but-verbal indication to me that I was mostly beside the point, for now, if they weren't with me brought it on.  For the rest of the evening, his ears jumped at most sounds outside the house, and his only real distractions from looking for them came when my Clevelander student and I split the pulled pork my parents sent home with me in May. 

In the ensuing hours, we've both settled substantially. He still has no idea where they are, and I suspect that my car might right now seem like a fairly frightening piece of machinery, with its ability to take a pair of dog parents and make them disappear altogether.  They, for their part, are on a plane high over Newfoundland, about to leave the coast of North America and make their dark way across to islands they love, for a year of extraordinary living and eating and travelling and research.  

I can't tell the dog that as I sped home to him down the blazing interstate this afternoon, I saw, directly in front of me in the blue southern sky, an enormous set of cumulus clouds shaped just like the British Isles--the Hebrides included--and that I take that as a good sign for us all.  So instead I'll give him the gift of a night of air-conditioned sleep, now that the weather has spiked into the 90s, and tomorrow we'll launch out together into our new year. 

And while in today's first picture, he is clearly on the lookout for a particular sand-colored car (which I later showed him is still in the garage), within seconds of that one's capture he also made this face--which somehow suggested to me that we're both going to adjust to our new normality, and that sleep is going to help.