Pink Moscato. The most shameful of alone drinking alcohol. I hear whispers of my past family’s alcoholism slither past my ear. This is a sign of sorts, I suppose. I justify it by being bored. And alone. Who ever decided that was shameful? Why would I need to drink with friends, where I am happy and at peace? It’s alone, with my thought and feeling, when I need the distraction. I find myself to be that relative, whom it is painful and unendurable to visit; who must be visited, from obligations or guilt. I’ll visit myself; but first booze. The kick in the pants, the pacing sobs of failed expectations that weren’t well laid out in the first place. Determined promises to myself, that I will do this, I will talk to so-and-so, I will not be afraid. Thoughts, determinations, promise that lose courage in the morning. Silly. I’m not that.
I think that is why I got the cat.
My first encounter with a cat was when I was five years old. My eldest sister, who was about twenty-one and had just moved from my parents house to a near-by apartment, came over with a box. Inside this box could have been anything. Seeing my older and much idolized sister was enough to make me intolerably excited, but there was a box as well. She laid it on the floor, and opened it. I gazed in, along with my other sister, who was about eight. Inside the box was a live cat,a tuxedo kitten, wide-eyed and something I must touch and know and coo at immediately. This hell’s spawn had other ideas. He leapt from his Schrödinger’s box and onto my bronzed thin leg. Digging his claw in, he slide down my leg as if he were a fireman with no time to lose. I screamed; I don’t remember much after that, except my sister’s embarrassed but condescending words that sounded more like a lecture than comfort, (a pattern that’s come to define our relationship.) I’m sure I made a bigger fuss then was required, but I was bleeding; if I’ve learned anything in life, it’s that children do not like the sight of their own blood. His name was Boots; he looked into my soul, and was indifferent. I never forgave him.
Plus, I was allergic. Badly.
However, years later, I lay in my bed in my studio apartment, gazing out the window at the GM building. Flashing red, sometimes blue. At night it can be pretty, although during the day I find it a stark contrast to the old, deco style of the rest of Detroit’s skyline; A giant middle finger visible from any highway to greet you as you descent into the city. That morning was a Sunday; I put on my penguin uniform to go buss tables for eight hours. As I was locking my door to leave, I heard a meow. I looked down to see an orange tabby run eagerly up the stairs toward me, as if to say,
‘Thank God I found someone, you see, I locked myself out of my apartment!’ Unfortunately I could only give him a pat, which he received as if he were dying for it, and I headed out to work.
But a seed had been planted.
I fully intended to adopt an adult; I’ve never found kittens particularly cute, maybe for reasons stated above, and an adult would be less of a pet, and more of a roommate, which is what I was really looking for. However, when I relaid at work my encounter with the orange gentleman, and how I was thinking of adopting one, one of my co-workers jumped on me with a fierce light in her eye.
“I have three kittens and two cats I want to get rid of; take one!” She was so desperate, I couldn’t say no.
So I adopted AP. I thought, since she was a baby, I could influence her behavior, or train her. I obviously knew nothing about cats.
She has, in the year we’ve been together, swayed between frantic affection and violence. She has a similar temperament as the aforementioned Boots. Yet now, as an adult, I can appreciate it. She isn’t a pet, she is an animal. When she wants pets, she lets me know. With a human being, one wouldn’t go up and stroke and awe at a stranger. As it is with cats. My whole life I called myself a ‘dog-person’. Now, after having a cat, I find the two animals too different to be compared.
As I write this, AP lounges behind me, front paws crossed, eyes half-lidded in a sardonic way. I lean my head back on the couch, and she licks my brow. Yet I know if I were to pet her, she would give me a bite. C’est la vie, mon chat. We are independent, conflicted, burning females alone together. If I drink a bottle of upsettingly sweet Pink Moscato by myself, she’ll only gaze lazily with knowing eyes, as if to say:
‘One bottle, my human, just remember to feed me in the morning.’
And that is why I get up. Because if I die, I know she’d go straight for my eyeballs. I have a purpose; small, but important.