06 February 2010

Curling Up

Charlie's been in my lap for almost an hour. He deserves every moment of it. Now his head is propped in the crook of my right arm, and he is dozing and purring. Ahh...Who needs a massage?

Is it my imagination, or does he like my lap better when I'm wearing a skirt? It seems that when I'm wearing pants, he'll climb on me, wriggle about for a few minutes, then leave. But he curls up and dozes off, as he has tonight, when I'm wearing a skirt. I don't mind it, really, especially now that I'm wearing a denim skirt. But it's another story when I'm in a dressy black wool skirt.

Sometimes, like tonight, he's resting and relaxing me. But at other times, he seems to be holding on: It's as if he doesn't want me to leave him. Perhaps he wants me to keep him warm, literally and in the way Miguel de Unamuno meant. He probably knows that he is doing the same for me.

Sometimes I'll mention that I have two cats and someone will reflexively grimace and growl, "Ewww...I hate cats." It reminds me of the times I've mentioned that I have lived and traveled in France and someone said, "They hate Americans, right?" or "I don't like the French; they're such snobs."

The thing about cats--including Charlie and Max, who are two of the sweetest and most loving--is that they don't walk up to you, wagging their tails, the way dogs do. First of all, cats have to get to know you more than dogs do. That's just how they are. And, if they like--or, more important, trust--you, they will move closer and closer to you, and express their affection in very tactile ways: by rubbing themselves on your side, arms and legs, and, if they get to know you better, by rubbing their noses on your hands and other parts of your body, and--if you're lucky--on your nose. Cats are both slower and more subtle about getting to know you and expressing their affection than dogs are. But I think they're every bit as affectionate.

Even when your place is warm, it's still nice to have a cozy kitty on a winter day. I had long wanted a feline, but I finally got my first opportunity to adopt one right around the time I was sober for ninety days. Before that, I spent many a winter weekend day like today feeling as cold and exposed throughout my being as if I had gone out naked into the frigid wind.

I recall, in particular, Saturdays like this one during the last year that I lived in New Jersey. It was during the time after my grandmother and Uncle Sonny had died--he, suddenly and she, inevitably. And my friend Cori had committed suicide. I don't think I ever felt so alone. On top of everything, I was living just a few blocks from the Rutgers campus, the place where I was the most unhappy I ever was.

Sometimes, on such days, I'd go for a ride, as long as it wasn't raining or snowing. But at other times I'd stay inside. Yes, I was lonely, but I was just self-aware enough to know that I was too angry to be a friend to anybody--at least, I was then. Having a cat, or some pet, probably would have been good for me. But I don't think I would have been much good to any animal, and I doublt that any would have trusted me the way Charlie and Max seem to.

And now I'm starting to doze off...contentedly. That was something I didn't do in those days.

No comments: