Friday, April 13, 2012

Boris and the Queen

Last week, Queen Elizabeth visited York for a service at the Minster, and thousands of Yorkers lined the streets to welcome her. Jennifer, Tyler, and I were among the thousands--excited for our first glimpse of the enigmatic, long-standing Queen. Tyler sat atop my shoulders, waving a British flag for which we paid a  pound along near Stonegate street.

As we waited, we talked with people all around us. We met Justin and Allison, a young couple from Oregon who had been in York for seven months so far. Justin is pursuing a PhD at the University in Medieval Studies, and Alison is working part-time as a speech therapist.

We met a lot of small children, all waving flags.

And we met a young woman carrying a collar-less dog named Boris. She smiled as we pet him. "Boris isn't happy that I dragged him all the way to York for Queen." She laughed. We pet Boris--a small, brown-white mix that looked a bit like a Terrier--and laughed too.

After thirty minutes of waiting, enduring an array of questioning from Tyler ("Is she coming now? How about now? When is the Queen coming? Is she here yet? When will I see her? Will she wave to me?"), she arrived. Protected behind a thick layer of glass in the backseat of a shiny black car, she smiled from underneath the brim of her bright blue hat.

She waved at the thousands of us. And she waved, specifically, at Tyler.

Once she passed, the thousands shifted, rearranged, already jockeying for position to catch a second glimpse as the Queen left the Minster and made her way back.

That's when we spotted Boris again. Yet this time, the young woman was nowhere to be seen. And Boris was sniffing around the small grassy area behind the sidewalks. People nearby all called him a stray. They said he'd been there for about twenty minutes, just sniffing around.

I scooped Boris up and looked him in the eyes. It was definitely him. Same dog--his eyes bespeaking the reluctance of this Queen thing, and his collar-less neck proudly displaying his brown-white mix.

"Can I hug Boris?" Tyler raised his arms high. I bent down low.

Tyler gave Boris a massively affectionate hug.

"Can I give Boris a kiss? He might be sad because his Mommy is not here anymore. Where is his Mommy? Why is Boris's Mommy not right here with Boris?"

I answered all of the questions, let Tyler give Boris a kiss, and sat down on the ground. Suddenly, I forgot all about the Queen. Now, it was all about Boris.

"Boris's Mommy! Hello, can the Mommy of Boris hear me?" I started shouting.

"Boris's Mommy! Boris's Mommy!" Tyler began shouting in echo.

People around us began looking with odd eyes and raised brows, then a few smirks, even a couple of laughs.

"Boris's Mommy! Are you here?" Tyler and I continued yelling for her, our voices mixing and mingling and which of us was the child in the family was difficult, I'm sure, to decipher.

We spoke with a police officer named Chris, who took down the details of the woman we'd met (the first time I'd ever given a physical description of  a person to a police officer). Chris was an immediately friendly guy.

"I know you have bigger things to worry about on the Queen's day, of course," I said, a bit apologetic for taking up so much of his time.

"Everything is big, no matter when it happens," was the delightful Chris's reply.

"Can we bring Boris to OUR home?" Tyler asked as he tugged on my coat.

Chris smiled.

We ended up carrying Boris around for the next hour--holding him, hugging him, kissing him, shouting for his Mommy.

We never found her. And in the end, after I let Boris down to pee, he lifted his leg, urinated, and then ran off in the direction of a noise.

The Queen was exiting the Minster. Perhaps Boris wanted to get closer to catch a glimpse; perhaps he had gotten excited, finally, about her time here in York. More likely, though, is the possibility that Boris just wanted to go. he wanted to continue the search for his Mommy on his own.

In the end, we never saw Boris safely home to the arms of that young woman. Chris's face showed his concern. And I'll be honest: it took me most of the day to realize that Boris was going to be okay: some way or another, he was going to find his way into safe arms again.

The Queen made her way back along the street to much fanfare and flashes. I didn't see her face, this time, though I'm sure that enigmatic smile shone brightly from underneath her glowing blue hat. Funny thing, though: the face of a collar-less, reluctant dog was all I could see.

Like all of us, Boris was asked to go to a place he didn't want to go, and in the end, he lost his way. he found safe arms for a while, found some smothering hugs and kisses, and then continued on his journey towards being found again. Like us, Boris will continue searching for his one true home--the arms where he really belongs. Until then, here's to hoping Boris finds more safe arms along the way. And here's to hoping that we find those kinds of arms, too, whether for a minute, an hour, or days and years.