CoolCat has been acting weird. He used to insist on pre-sleep cuddling. Now he approaches, looks at me and then, after a long period of seeming indecision, settles down close, but not next to me. I can only think that he might have been sleeping close to me one night and I must have rolled over on him. If that happened, I do not remember it, and it might be totally off track, but I cannot think of any reason for this change.
He has also been much more vocal. He was a talker from kittenhood, but the past month or it appears that he is training for the next Senate filibuster. This has been going on for months, and I sort of attributed it to a combination of nearly crushing him and the higher summer temperatures. I will never know because whilst his English is excellent, I have never been able to master most of Cat.
I also occasionally do bodily assessments to see if he is experiencing any pain. He does have a bit of arthritis that we manage...should that even be possible...with supplements, but it could be getting worse. This is important to do, especially for an geriatric cat, because cats are stunningly stoic. I remember cats coming to our shelter with serious wounds and broken bones, even with major breaks where a bone end would protrude from the skin. It is a survival behavior. And, purring cannot be an accurate assessment of well-being, as cats often purr when severely injured.
He has no body issues, nothing that would indicate pain. I gingerly manipulated his joints without any response, not even purring. :) He does not have any tender areas. He continues to jump up, in decreasing height, on our very high bed, his scratching thing and furniture, without any hesitation or apparent discomfort. He loves to be brushed and combed, particularly with the stripping comb. So, I have no idea what is going on. I guess that as long as his checkups are good and he continues to have food and water pass through his system with regularity, he continues to elicit play and petting, his sleep continues to be normal, that I should just relax.
I most likely will not stop watching for signs of distress, but I should probably stop contorting him every time he starts speechifying.
In the process of organizing and divesting all of my old crap, the stuff that was in storage, I came across a familiar, red container. I think it is some kind of Rubbermaid (my clear favorite of reusable containers) bowl and brought it out for CoolCat to see.
I held it up and called his name. He looked at me and the container and in a moment perked his little ears as he recognized it. He came running, well, more like waddling, another story, mewing all the while, just like he does when he catches a glimpse of my necklace and want it for playing.
Yes, catmint, the big, red catmint bowl. Oh, cool. I opened the lid, grabbed a big pinch of the fragrant leaves (even I love the smell of catmint, so sweet) and crumbled it on the floor.
That is the way he likes it.
He will tolerate the compressed pellets in a soft toy, but his favorite form is as he had it today.
Every once in a while he would look up at me. Once in a while I would stroke his neck. It took a while. He does not rush the experience like Lilith or Ricky did, nor does he feel the need to grind the crumbles mint into his coat like Tucker preferred.
He just ate it, gave a quick rub of his cheek in the remaining flakes, leaving most of it still on the floor, wandered over to where I was watching him with such pleasure of my own, and then jumped up on his favorite chair and has been dozing for the past couple of hours.
It has been a year and a half since he has seen that bowl, or had any of the stuff inside. I have been making little, tied packages of the catmint pellets...a supremely wonderful product by the way, which you can buy on-line at my favorite pet supply store.
Eighteen months, and it took only a heartbeat for CoolCat to remember it and what it contained. Only another heartbeat for him to enjoy that little pile of ecstasy.
And, as I was sitting and watching him enjoy his catmint, I was struck, like a real poke in the pokey-parts, how powerful memory is. All it takes is a scent or a sound or a word and we are back in the moment. Provoked into the past. Watching him sent me back to that other life, in a pleasant memory of CoolCat and our other cats and how much fun they were, the companionship and stimulation to be involved they gave me.
And, I thought, well, this is a good memory, one worth holding. Surely there must have been other times when things were not so bad, and the truth is that there are plenty, more than I could share. My next thought, in My Spiral of Remembering, is that my perceptions are skewed, that all of the bad stuff was not as bad as I make it, that I misunderstood and misinterpreted and all that old, familiar jazz.
And, then I remember that most of those pleasant and practically happy memories were sandwiched in between the bad stuff. The true bad stuff. And, once again, memory has taken me from a pleasant moment to other pleasant memories to self-doubt and shame at not being what someone else wanted me to be, even though that was never possible, to be what someone else wanted.
This is sad. It is a process and it is clear that I am not close to having this spiraling process becoming just another memory. I am not yet adjacent, in the neighborhood of that Universe. I trek in this reality, doing my best and hoping to not make any of those mistakes again, ever again.
My memories seems essential to finding balance in my new life. That they eventually will stop being only a source of shame and fear and move further into that part of my life where I can use them to learn about the things that I no longer want as part of me or my life. You know, using them as illustrations, examples and lessons for what I do not want, allowing better, more appropriate beliefs and practices to take their places.
I have no idea who first postulated the thoughts of how essential it is to know where one has been in order to see where one is going, or at least wants to go.
I cannot undo my past. When pressed on occasion to declare if I ever wanted or considered the differences in my life that would benefit from being able to go back and change things, do things differently, or simply not do some things at all, I did not have to think about it; I know that I would not. Which is probably a healthy way to feel, as it is impossible to return to any time in one's history and change anything. All I have is today, not even tomorrow, to craft the life I want.