commitment · fear · intimacy · love

The Lionhearted

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I didn’t want a cat. I sat for a friend’s once, and their
constant up-in-my-grillness was off-putting to my isolatory nature.
My aunt had cats; was/is the stereotypical cat lady,
unmarried, living alone, 3 cats of circulation when one dies.
They’re nice and sweet sometimes, and good for petting. But all
that fur
! Forget it.
My ex had a cat. It was good enough, companionable enough,
but there were so many things in his apartment that identified him as a cat-lover/owner: the framed New Yorker cover
with a cat; a magazine about cats (that he swears his brother bought him as a
gag-gift); the industrial vacuum meant for all that fur.
It took me almost a year to put up curtains in my last
apartment, because to do so would mean that I couldn’t abscond in the middle of
the night. I would have to unscrew it slowly, with meaning and intention; I was
committed to something.
Commitment was the largest reason I didn’t want a cat. Not the commitment of keeping it fed and littered, but the commitment of
caring.
My brain would go immediately to, “I don’t know how I could
deal with its death.” The hypothetical death of a hypothetical cat. The
consequences of feeling that deeply for anything frightened me.
And yet. During the time I was with that ex, I moved to
Oakland from San Francisco for grad school, and I was living a bridge away from
anyone I knew, and things were a little lonely here in my studio apartment.
After a side-track story I won’t tell now, I ended up adopting Stella from the SPCA. A green-eyed (no freaky yellow-eyed cats please!), silken, mottled
brown/black two-year old cat.
She has been one of the best things that’s ever happened to
me.
She’s not an in-your-face’r. She’ll hang when she wants to,
and over the 3 years we’ve lived together now, she began to sit more and
more in my lap as I meditate in the morning or nap on the couch. Over time,
we’ve grown more accustomed to one another; and over time I’ve gotten to see
how much my love wants to express itself.
I say things that only my mother must have said to me in
endearment. They come naturally and without thought, these names and phrases
that I whisper to her, or chide at her. The sweetened names of love that were
hanging out inside me until there was a vessel in which to pour them.
I didn’t want a cat.
I didn’t want the responsibility of love.
But it’s opened rooms in me where there were only walls. 

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