Strays

Among the many peculiarities of Papingo, this speck of civilization
nestled in the mountains of our ancients, is a seemingly unspoken
system of communal dog sharing. It’s a Greek zipcar of 2-3 hour or
even half-day canine care for the many strays who appear to wander the
village. I have seen innkeepers and shop-owners, neighbors, greeting
and feeding these dogs – their shifts, perhaps – and children too,
nonchalantly playing with a pup you’d mistake for their own, only to
realize as it trots off around the corner, that it in fact belongs to
no one. No collar or leash, no one name it responds to; but also no
obvious signs of the stray. These are friendly dogs, accustomed to
affection, coats clean, eyes clear, spirits high.

I’m slightly embarrassed by my wonder over this – it can’t be
particular to this one place – but it seems distinctly UnAmerican for
a group of people to collectively care for a dog none of them may have
the pride of owning. And in recent days, I haven’t been able to help
thinking on it as an echo of my experience here with One Year Lease. I
am in some sense a stray – a wandering writer, perpetually roving in a
theater village, momentarily for these two glorious weeks given the
shelter and care of an unspeakably enviable home. I sit at rehearsal
and have my belly rubbed by seeing students transform an English text
into a Greek physical/musical/lyrical performance. I observe the
company begin to divine an entire theatrical landscape out of please
excuse my dear aunt sally, and feel my leg jump up and down as that
spot behind my left ear gets scratched. I’m fed beyond full. I’m
nourished. And today it will all end for me, and I must seek another
part of the village, knowing how rare and special this care has been,
and wondering, dreaming, about when I might be able to return.

–  Kevin

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