Monday, July 04, 2005

Confession

I have a confession to make. I do not love my cat. I treat her as though I love her. I rub her head, scratch her back, detangle her summer fur and call her inside every night. Perhaps because I don’t love her, I spoil her with treats, like an indifferent grandparent who sends gifts by courier. She returns the favor, plays her part as a beloved cat with aplomb. She dutifully claws up my favorite chair, licks the shower floor, rolls around on my unfinished drawings and is faithful to ensure that every black garment I own is properly fuzzy with fur. She turns her nose up at the bacon I just fried for her because I was out of her favorite treat; ham.
But she never brings me lizards. Not like Paddy, who at his heyday, would bring me all sorts of lizards, mice, birds (sometimes just the head---he had little self discipline when it came to birds) and the occasional squirrel. But this wasn’t why I loved Paddy or why I still do, though he’s been gone for years.
Paddy and I had stories.
Not so with Gurtie. She was a rescue from the pound. Her file says she was found, beaten and starved. I took her because she had a nick out of one ear from an old injury, V-shaped. I wanted to give her a good home. I have. But we have never connected in any meaningful way.
I wonder sometimes if the part of Gurtie that could connect with a human was shut off in those bad times before I met her. I wonder if I haven’t made the right noises to open it again, or if she never had that part in the first place.
But mostly, I wonder if it matters whether I love my cat. Possibly I take better care of her out of my sense of obligation than if I truly loved her.
I remind myself that love is a verb, and a choice. That if I continue to try, the emotion will find me. After six years, it has not.
Is it really so important that I love her? After all, it’s not what I feel that matters, but what I do. I can make the choice to give her good care, because it’s the agreement we have. We’re like an old couple from an arranged marriage, honoring our contracts with bland consistency and acceptance. We are secure.


Tonight Aubrey will return from Georgia and Pete from upstate. I’ll be very happy to have them both home, but I think I’ll always remember this sweet, quiet week with Orion. I feel as though I’ve spent a week immersed in bright blue water. I’m reading William Golding’s “Darkness Visible” and when his character, Matty, experiences a moment of clarity I excitedly said “ I KNOW THIS!! I GET THIS!” Matty, staring through a shop window at a crystal paperweight caught in sunlight, has a moment of pure vision where his fragments of knowledge assemble themselves into understanding. This week has been such. I only hope I’ll be able to recall it later, in the midst of the bustle of household and studio. We’ll see.


As always, thanks for reading. Have a good July 4th and be safe.

9 comments:

Carl V. said...

Happy Independence Day to you and yours Lisa. And thank you as well for sharing you with us.

K said...

My friend is having the same experience with two rescue cats; she wanted to give them a good life, but they're not really happy with human contact and it's difficult to bond with them. They don't bring her lizards either (although they'd be hard to find in the north of Scotland, where she lives).

As for the moments of clarity, I have them too. Often when I'm outside and alone, and the light falls in certain ways on the hills or the golden stone buildings in the city, and everything suddenly seems still and vital and full. It may not mean anything, or solve anything, but I'm grateful all the same.

Stephoney said...

Hey Lisa, it's me Stephanie. I created a blog account. I felt sad when I read about Gurtie. I understand, because you have such a bond with Paddy. I felt sad because I was the one who had to put him to sleep, so I guess it brought up a lot of feelings. I know in my heart he is soaring all around you and gurtie watching over both of you. I still think you love Gurtie Lisa, in your own way. I just think Paddy was your little kindred spirit and still is. I'm glad you gave gurtie a home and I'm still sorry that when you came home that day on Bird Lane, Paddy wasn't there for you anymore. I love you Lisa.

Really_Rather_Not_Nice said...

Don't listen to them... and don't trust that cat. She's an imposter, playing the part to lull you into a false sense of security.

You will never see it coming.

Carolyn said...

I read your post yesterday and I've been thinking about it constantly since then, perhaps largely because I've been in a similar situation before. And I have been wondering - is there any reason you couldn't get a second cat? There often are many such reasons, (and introducing a new cat can be a tricky process,) but then perhaps you could find yourself another true friend and the distance between you and Gurtie wouldn't be so bothersome.
In the meantime, let me say I do admire you for giving Gurtie the best home you can. Your honesty is clean and refreshing.

Carolyn said...

I read your post yesterday and I've been thinking about it constantly since then, perhaps largely because I've been in a similar situation before. And I have been wondering - is there any reason you couldn't get a second cat? There often are many such reasons, (and introducing a new cat can be a tricky process,) but then perhaps you could find yourself another true friend and the distance between you and Gurtie wouldn't be so bothersome.
In the meantime, let me say I do admire you for giving Gurtie the best home you can. Your honesty is clean and refreshing.

GayDaddy said...

Wow, I feel the same way about my father.

lisa said...

To RRNN: you just made my day.

To Po: yes, but you didn't choose your father at the pound

To K and Carl and Stefoney: Thanks, guys.

And
We've been spammed!! I'll ask Ravyn if we can keep this crap off the site, but in the meantime, I'll share what Harlan Ellison told me once:

"Lisa, don't let the groundlings get you down."

Stephoney said...

Hi Lisa! I bet you didn't think one little post about Paddy and Gurtie would cause so much of a response, LOL!!! Dang...Kinda funny!!! We all need to get off our puters and do something!!