Kip's cats were inseparable, like a single animal with one set of thoughts--twin boys, mostly Russian Blue, skittish but loving and lively. They slept together, ate together, smothered us with their furry nuzzles in the bed together. Then we woke up one morning two months ago to find Joel walking funny. Actually, the way he was limping his hind leg made me feel as if something was seriously wrong--my instinct said this can not wait until later, he needs to go to the doctor right now. I wondered if he'd broken his foot in the night, or caught a toe somewhere and had to pull himself free. The vet said that it was bone cancer, and his legs were eaten up with it. We aren't the kind of people to let things drag on and on, and so Joel never came home. Since then, Zane has been a new, refreshed kind of cat--demanding more and more attention in the cutest, most delicious of ways, and wanting nothing more than to be by our sides at every moment. Yesterday, when I moved my two cats from Astoria to our new apartment in Ditmas Park, I wondered how the meeting would go.
When Zane saw Bad Thing (yes, that's his name) for the first time, electricity fired through the air and Zane made the most incredible, completely recognizable--which is to say, human--movements. It was so clear. He thought it was Joel, then upon realizing that it wasn't, he blinked, set down his head, and let out a sad, guttural wail. I'll never forget it. This first, tiny interaction was enough to send me into a spiral of sadness and longing, which I'm sure was nothing like the confused tunnel of memories that Zane was going through. We recognize that cats are "like" us a little bit, but we too often see ourselves as different creatures. What a beautiful, extraordinary, unexpectedly emotional moment.
Since then, they have growled, hissed and postured, in every room of the new house, trying to figure out who belongs where--maybe not understanding that as of yesterday they both belong everywhere. The most coveted area is, of course, the bed, where both of the humans are laying flat for long periods of time, and are most likely to hug and squeeze and love them. We'll see how that works out.
The move has been a lovely one, despite the days of stress and anxiety and uncertainty, and I am sure that when the boxes are all unpacked and the house starts to look like somewhere people could actually live, we'll settle in nicely. People keep asking if the move "went well." It did, despite my movers showing up 2 hours late. Although the hardest part is the part we're doing now--the deciding not only where to put everything, but more importantly, how you want to move through your space. How do you want to sit in your new office? Where should each "category" of kitchen item live? What art do you want to look at when you sit in this chair, or that chair? How do you work the dishwasher, and the new-fangled stove that preheats to 400 degrees in 6 minutes, no really.
Bean, my more adorable and more, um, Rubenesque cat, has spent the last 48 hours under the guest bedroom in the basement. She has come out once to pee--that I know of, and a few times I can coax her out for a few minutes of loving and a little sip of water. The last time I moved--9 years ago, when she was 4 years old--she stayed wrapped up inside an overcoat on a chair for three days. I want my happy little girl back.
I'm thrilled, don't get me wrong. The house is so beautiful, and so full of promise and opportunity, not to mention the most luxurious washer/dryer and central air that a person could desire. Oh yeah, and we have a backyard--it's a wreck right now, but soon (soonish?) we'll have a deck and some plants and a little garden party.
But...promise me that we made the right choice. Promise me that the bumps in the road ahead will be remembered as tiny victories over the things we used to think were problems, but really weren't. Promise me that soon we'll all end up, the five of us, napping and talking and loving in the bed with no growling or hissing (or snoring from the boyfriend). Promise me that everything will be alright.