Ilie Ruby was a student of mine when I taught the humor writing class for graduate students in the USC Professional Writing Program. Now she is an author. Bravo! Her magical debut novel, The Language of Trees, (Avon/Harper Collins) is in stores now. Join me in welcoming Ilie to the world of authors and to my blog.
THE SMART HEART
On a blustery fall day nearly two years ago, weeks after my two daughters and one son were adopted from Ethiopia, our two wild furry springerdoodles escaped. This was the 5th escape in a month. I had caught them at several failed attempts, trying to escape in three ways: 1) by standing on the patio furniture and jumping over the fence, 2) by knocking down the slats of the fence, and 3) by burrowing under the fence.
We had a routine when one of these three things happened. My eldest daughter and I first called the dogs. Of course, they never came. Then we’d get in the car and I’d call the local police to see if anyone had called in with news of two wild wandering dogs that resembled hyperactive sheep. Finally, we’d drive around the neighborhood shouting the dogs' names and interrogating every jogger and friendly-looking dog person out for an innocent stroll.
In time, we always found the dogs. Once the police said they were weaving in and out of traffic on a main road near our house. Miraculously, they were never harmed. It seemed that as with Moses and his Red Sea, traffic parted for our dogs. My earnest husband, a self-confessed failed handyman, secured the fences after every escape. He did his best. He used a variety of interesting and exotic pieces of wiring, species of duct tape, and other various fence-related equipment that he bought from emergency trips to Home Depot. Still the dogs outwitted us and found their way out.
But on this day, when my daughter and I discovered them missing, something felt different. We shouted and shouted. We ran up and down our street. Then we jumped in the car and I picked up my phone, ready to call the police. My daughter put her hand on my arm and said, "No mom. Wait. Just stay here and the dogs will come. I know how to do it."
I decided to see what would happen. Somehow I believed her.
She closed her eyes and called the dogs one more time. Not loudly, but in the most calm and centered little voice. And then, somehow, from out of nowhere, the dogs came running. One from up the street. The other from out of the woods. They had never done this before. How could she, after only 7 weeks in America, have managed to call the dogs home?
"See?" teased my daughter, as we dragged the dogs inside, her eyes sparkling with pride.
We fed the dogs and sent them to bed in their crates. When I put her to sleep that night and she nuzzled into my neck, I asked my daughter how she knew she how to do it.
"My heart said stay here and call the dogs. My stomach said to go in the car. I listened to my heart."
I was awestruck. How many of us struggle to access our intuition and even more, to articulate it? My then 8-year old daughter knew to trust herself, and she was already more connected to her new home, our furry wanton pets, and to me, than I ever imagined possible in such a short period of time.
“I think you have a very smart heart,” I said.
“I know,” she said. “You, too. That is how you found me and I found you.”
The Language of Trees (Avon HarperCollins August 2010) is a story about healing, second chances, and how far we will go to protect the ones we love. Ruby lives near Boston and is at work on her second novel. Click the link to join Ilie on Facebook.
If you'd like to win an autographed copy of The Language of Trees, just leave a comment here for Ilie to be eligible to win. I am giving away one free copy. This contest is available world-wide. I will do a drawing on Monday, and post the winner on Trivia Tuesday.