Sunday, October 11, 2015

Finding My Place in the World

"Why Oliver, I see you are broadening your horizons. Good for you, old buddy." I didn't have to turn around to know whose voice it was that called to me from the neighbor's deck. Vincent Jack Lewis, Vinny for short, and I have been best friends for nearly as long as I can remember. I'd know the sound of his voice, and the sound of his three-legged limp, anywhere. Vinny lost one of his legs to feline diabetes years ago. He said it was due in part to his indulgent lifestyle. He ate too many kitty treats and didn't exercise. Since the surgery, he has mended his ways. In fact, he's gone a bit too far if you ask me. He follows a vegan diet and does yoga several times a week. He is constantly trying to get me to follow his example, but I think I look good with a little extra cushion around the middle.

 "Vinny, check this out! It' a world map!" I exclaimed as Vinny joined me on my deck. I could barely contain my excitement.

 "I see that," Vinny replied in that cool, calm voice of his. Why couldn't he ever get as excited about stuff as I did? "My question is why do you have a world map? Are you planning a trip and did you forget to tell me about it?"

 I shook my head in response. "No, of course not. You would know if I were planning a trip. I am using this map to try and locate the kids in Miss R's class."

 "Ahhh, I see," nodded Vinny in that thoughtful way of his. "If I might make a suggestion? Perhaps it would help if you began your search in the correct hemisphere." He motioned with his paw to the Northwest quadrant of the map.

 "Thanks," I mumbled as I renewed my search efforts. I wasn't sure what a hemisphere was, but I wasn't about to let Mr. Yoga know that.

 "Ummm, Oliver, forgive me for stating the obvious, but shouldn't you be looking in the continent of North America?"

 "Duh, that's what I was going to do," I grumbled aware of the irritation entering my voice. Just what was a continent and how many of them were there?

 "There are seven continents," Vinny said as if he had read mind. "Miss R.'s class is in North America." Vinny motioned again with his paw to the words North America.

 "I know that," I snapped as I began searching an area in North America with Mexico emblazoned boldly across the paper.

 "Wrong country," Vinny said simply.

 "I know that!" I yelled back at him. I shouldn't have yelled. Vinny was only trying to help. I guess I was jealous of the fact that he was so much better at holding a map in his head than I was. He knew so much more about geography and.......everything. I just wanted to be the one who had the answers for once.

 "Look Oliver, I can see you are getting upset. You can do this, little buddy, you really can. Just find the right hemisphere, then look for the right continent, then country, then state, then city."

 "I know all that!" I snapped at him. I could tell I hurt his feelings. I shouldn't be so grouchy when he was only trying to be helpful.

 "All right, I will leave you to it then," Vinny said and his head drooped as he walked away. I needed to apologize, but first I needed to be able to show to Vinny that I could locate Miss R.'s classroom community on a map. Boys and girls, can you help? In what hemisphere, continent, country, state and city is your classroom community located? And do you have any suggestions about how I might make things better with my best friend, Vinny? Please leave your suggestions in the comments below.