There’s a wild black cat who’s in love with me. He waits at the sliding glass door, near the place I frequently appear by the computer, patiently. If it’s morning, the rising sun hits him and he’ll close his eyes, slightly swaying. But he’s not asleep, just half there. The moment the ground shakes from my two stepping feet, he’s fully alert.
Some days he’s more patient than others. If it takes too long, or if the air is sharpened by fierce wind and bitter cold, I hear him calling.
He tends to repeat himself, “Meow!” Until I open the door, invite him in and stand there, each trying to coax the other across the line. No one wants to be in the cold, but he is absolutely terrified of being inside. Violet and I trapped him and his identical brother in here once and they both, in a furry panic of streaking black mini-panthers, literally, bounced off the walls. These cats are wild.
It’s Buddy and Slasher. Rightly named, Buddy is the nice one. He’s turned out to be quite a lover. Slasher, on the other hand (paw?) will get ya. My little girl is the only one who can tell them apart from looks alone. Their behavior is what gives it away.
As kittens, they always stuck together. The mother cat (who may or may not have been a product of my kitten-adopting days in high school) had an apparent history of trauma, with her tail bent sideways in two places. Needless to say, she was extremely skittish, so her two male kittens were completely feral. The little black kittens are young adults now (more like sleek panthers) and she’s long since disappeared.
Despite their parallel existence and identical looks, Buddy and Slasher are total opposites. While Buddy has discovered the wonders of human touch, Slasher never got over his innate fears. If you reach out your hand to pet Buddy and Slasher is near, he’ll run up and try to slash you. These days, Slasher won’t come around unless he’s very hungry, so it’s usually safe.
Buddy always wins me over. After a few minutes of vain efforts to entice him in, I’m pushed to join him outside. Checking on the giant spider who’s made her web above my spot, I sit on the platform, facing Mt. Hood. It’s a different picture each time, but if you can see the mountain – no matter what – it’s wonderful. This morning, a sliver of white clouds cut across, halfway up, against a bright blue sky. It was just after dawn…
He wraps himself around my ankles, nuzzling, until I slowly, gently, pick him up and put him in my lap, the only place he ever wants to be. His big claws extend, digging in, and he curls into a ball, hiding his face in me. Purring, once in a while he looks up at me, directly into my eyes with some kind of loving awe like, “Who are you human?”
I sort of feel the same about him. I’m in love with the cat who ventured so far that he found something once unimaginable. I’m in love with the fact that he went with it. He’s hilarious to observe in the local animal kingdom, where he engages in frequent acts of play with to the others, cats or dog alike. I love it when he rubs against Peaches (the pit) for a pet, while she presents him a stick, neither really able to help each other out whatsoever.
So what? He thinks I’m especially amazing. To Buddy, I’m the one. But I realize if I wasn’t here, it might as well be anyone else in the vicinity who knows how to pet a cat.
It’s not just inter-species, this shared joy – it’s inter-personal. My pal Megan and I rediscovered the same concept later this morning, during our run up Mt. Tabor. Neither would have done it on our own. With what started as a mere idea, a neurological flicker in my brain, we’ve made something not only productive in a direct sense, considering personal health, but also in creating what has potential for transmission and ensuing action among our friends (possibly continued with their friends, and their friends’ friends, and so on). And joyous it was.
Being fat and unhealthy is contagious, so is being healthy and fit. Add to that a solid correlation between fitness and intelligence and I should not have to argue that exercising is one of everyone’s main concerns, yet I do, because people, including many of my friends, continue to suffer from learned helplessness.
Every moment is filled with potential to adapt and make change. Health related goal achievement requires a concerted (and permanent) re-structuring of one’s personal habits and priorities. Part of this includes motions toward surrounding oneself with like-minded individuals. By together, regularly working our butts off, we’re able to demonstrate, inspire and encourage our peers to participate, fully aware that one is far less likely to do the required work alone. (Steering power is limitless – get a feel for the wheel.)
Love, it’s a blessing. Buddy and I adore each other. It’s just as fulfilling as it is simple. And it fits neatly into one little compartment of my life. No one would ever be jealous of a cat. But my relationship with him is just like every other! We’re enamored by each other, intoxicated, yet both of us are practically interchangeable with any other (sentient) being in the world.