I have two cats, but Sasha, my other cat, is nervous and fearful and spends her day hiding under my bed. She comes out when I sit down to write and climbs up my shoulder to knead. When she hits skin, she starts to purr. People at the gym never ask questions, although I suspect they think my life is far more interesting than it really is. For all of her idiosyncrasies, Sasha is my cat, and I love her to pieces. But I envy Hunter.
Hunter is chubby and he doesn’t care. He has the happy paunch of a neutered male, the cat equivalent of a beer gut. He’s oblivious to it, often unabashedly rolling on his back for a belly rub. He presents it to you like he can grant you three wishes. If you don’t comply, he tucks his head between his paws–look how cute I am. If that doesn’t work, he swipes at you, claws extended. Ignore me at your own risk.
He sleeps whenever he wants, wherever he wants. If it’s on the stairway, the middle of the hallway, the sink, my pillow, its all good. I find him in the strangest locations, as if he’s walking from one place to another and decides, I must sleep now. He doesn’t bother asking if it’s okay by anyone else, or wonder whether he should move to a less troublesome spot. He just looks at you and blinks. Excuse me, but some of us are sleeping. I actually apologize.
He gets food and water every day without having to cook, clean up or even ask for his dinner (although he’ll stand by the bowl knowing very well he’s already been fed.) I clean his litter box, his furballs, and the hair he leaves across every surface he touches. Come to think of it, he’s a lot like my son.
I’ve had moments of great understanding with dogs, looked deep into their eyes and seen the wisdom of the ages. They are better listeners than most people, but they invade my personal space to sniff, lick anything that interests them followed by my face, and beg to be walked, even if it’s cold and rainy. They are too high maintenance for me. Although I love the notion of a devoted companion–someone to adore me unconditionally–I would tire of their demands. I know I should like dogs better than cats, but I don’t.
I suppose writers need to be cats, to some extent. We need to sit back, observe, soak in the details like that little patch of sunlight Hunter seems to find even though it changes spots every few hours. We have to believe we have important insight, that people need to hear our innermost thoughts (I write this blog, for heaven’s sake.) So we lay out our vulnerabilities for everyone to see, even though we still may be difficult to truly know. There are a lot of people living inside my head, most of whom aren’t me, yet are, and when I write, I put them on and take them off like costumes without even realizing it. It makes it hard for people to look into my eyes and see a clear picture.
Confused? Sometimes. But my imaginary life always been my refuge and greatest entertainment, and like a sleeping cat, it comes to me at unpredictable and inconvenient times. When it does, I drop everything and write. And loving me is not always easy, as I vacillate between being emotionally and physically reclusive and climbing in your lap. I am a self-centered being. I am a cat. Guess I don’t have to wait for my next life.
Although I will never, and I mean, never, ask you to rub my belly. Consider it a promise.