It was the first anniversary of Billy’s death on Friday. It seemed like the right thing to do on that day to walk the route we would do every morning.
Obviously, I don’t live in the same building that I lived in back then, but that’s where we begin. An enthusiastic, excited dog would already be tugging at the leash down Buchholzer Straße. The most stressful part of the walk was always crossing Schönhauser Allee. Two cycle paths, and two lanes of traffic in both directions. Trams, too. He’d be really impatient here. Once we’d crossed the road, I would get the feeling he’d be ready to be off the leash. There was still another road in between us and freedom. But once we got to the wide dirt area alongside the sports field, he was free. At this point Billy was walking himself. He didn’t need me there. My role now would be like the rubber tyres next to a dock. Just there to make sure he doesn’t injure himself or something.
Unless I brought a ball with me instead of just finding sticks along the way. If I had a ball, the flat area in front of the sports hall was perfect. I’d throw the ball (usually a knackered old baseball), and it would bound and roll forever. Billy would pelt along after it, sometimes bringing it back, sometimes not. When I think of Mauerpark, it’s winter in my head. Not because it’s winter now, but because winter were the good times in the park. Fewer people, fewer children, less trash. Billy could be off the leash the whole way without having to worry too much.
At the other end of the park, it was time for the leash. He’d normally be calmer at this point. Tongue flopping out of his mouth. Ready to go say hello to the women in the coffee shop. Our coffee shop isn’t there any more (it closed in 2016), it was to the left of the coffee shop in the photo below. We’d go in there, I’d get a cappuccino, and if one of my friends was working, Billy would get some attention.
Billy’s walk was nearly over. Time for the human to start his day back at home.
The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Come Down to Us by Burial
On this day
Drawings of people in Harris + Hoole cafe, in Barnet, 30 January 2014
Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article