marry a guy with a dog, you inevitably end up marrying the dog too. i was pondering this notion the other day over dinner, when looking at james' wrist tattoo, a star with the numbers delineating our wedding date. it will be seven years this august, seven years we've been married, ten altogether if you consider the few years we were together before we got hitched. gosh, that's a long time, a third of my life to be exact. marriage is more challenging than anyone will ever tell you it is, but we've worked really hard to persevere through all the really hard stuff, to compromise and weather the storms, those storms that many a divorce are made of. these days, marriage is comfortable, and natural, and seems perfect, like it will last forever. it's a relief, like finding that one gas station on the loneliest highway in the world. reflecting upon all the times we've had together, the good times and bad times, just me james and this brown dog, a little team inseparable, i could not be more grateful. so daily, hobbling along on our religious walks with our precious and elegantly-old lady of fifteen (that's close to 90 in human years!), i say to myself, dog, i've known you for over half of your life. there is a comfort in the familiarity of knowing someone so long, and waking up every day to see that someone's face, however speckled with gray it may be. yesterday, when she kissed my face, one of the very few times it's ever happened, i knew she was saying i love you, mom. warmed my heart right up.