When I first saw his cute face, I didn’t know what to make of him. Actually, that’s an understatement. I didn’t even know what he was. I asked around and learned his name: Marvin. Like me, he was from Boston.
He hung around with a guy, Ryan, whom I’d met at a concert the year before. Some sparks had flown, but now Ryan seemed eager to introduce me to his friend. I said hello to Marvin and did my best to make a good impression. His eyes grew heavy and soon he was asleep.
Not easily won over, huh?
Still, Ryan and I kept in touch via email. A few weeks passed, and I found myself at his and Marvin’s place in Charlottesville. It was an hour drive from my college, in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
Ryan lived with only the bare necessities—a desk, a bed, a coffee table, a 13” TV/VCR combo, and a futon—while Marvin appeared set on a life of indulgence. Whatever little extra money they had went toward his toys, which he piled around himself like a nest.
His unabashed gluttony was a stark difference to Ryan’s strict self-control, writing for hours every day, striving to get published. While Marvin cast suspicious sidelong glances in my direction, I was falling for the author.
Ryan, though, had a history of complicated relationships. The door to his heart was only open a crack. A small Boston Terrier could squeeze through, but a human-sized girl might not fit. I would need Marvin’s help.
One Friday I offered to drive Marvin to Harrisonburg. I had driven to Charlottesville the night before, on Thursday, but tonight Ryan had to work his part-time job. He planned to meet me after.
If I took Marvin with me, then he wouldn’t have to wait alone in the apartment, I said. Would that be OK?
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Marvin’s head cocking at each mention of his name. Ryan mulled it over and eventually said sure. He packed Marvin a small bag and placed him on the passenger seat of my car.
As I drove west on I-64 through the Blue Ridge Mountains, Marvin turned a slow circle and settled down into a slouch. He looked up at me. Could I be trusted? This was my chance to prove it. I continued along with the utmost caution.
A few hours later, safely back at my place, we heard Ryan knock. Marvin romped over to the doorway and greeted him with licks. I gave him a kiss. We had all made it.
Together we walked inside—a new “pack,” the next stage.
Rasika writes about being married and how that makes you act weird. Oh, wait, maybe that’s just her. Follow her on Twitter @rwelankiwar.
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