Remember the afternoon that you walked through my sliding glass door in that horrible townhouse I was renting across the street from the post office? Remember how it was just a few days past my 20th birthday, the birthday I bugged all my friends, roommates and anyone who would listen that all I wanted as a gift was a cat? Remember how you strolled right in like you owned the place, jumped into my lap and stayed… forever? We slept with the sliding glass door open for days ( virtually inviting any other wandering stray animals to come in as well) but you never left. Sure you’d sleep on the patio, warming yourself in the hot southern California sunshine but you never left.
Remember when we moved to that cute little 1920’s apartment on Choctow street? The one just a few doors down from the blind shut-in who used to fry you fresh chicken livers every afternoon? I wondered for a long time where you disappeared to everyday and why you weren’t all that interested in dinner until I ran into to her and realized I could have saved a lot of money on cat food. That was also the apartment where you used to catch lizards – little lizards by the dozen, I would come home from work in the late afternoon and there would be 6, 8, 10 tails on the front stoop.
We left there and eventually moved – just you and me – to our little one bedroom apartment over the garage. A garage just a few feet off very busy University avenue where you cried relentlessly every day to go outside. I eventually let you go because it seemed mean to lock you up when you were so obviously street smart. I’d come home from work – you’d go out for a couple hours and always show back up right at dinner time. Except one night when you didn’t come home – one night when I spent the entire evening canvassing the neighborhood for you. The night I even enlisted the help of my landlord – my landlord who did not like cats and was none too thrilled that you were living there – but he helped. He helped and eventually late the next morning you came home tired, dehydrated and covered in cob webs (I can only hope it was some late night Tijuana kitty rave). It was the only night we have ever spent apart. You and I lived in that little apartment over the garage for years like two old spinsters – keeping each other company, finishing each other’s ice cream. Remember one lazy Saturday afternoon when I inadvertently threw a crumpled up dollar bill across the living room and you fetched it for me – it began a two or three day game of none stop fetch. You are the only cat I know that has ever done that.
Remember the time when you caught a mole – a mole half the size you were and you tried to bring it home and I pretended like I didn’t see you standing at the screen door – half dead mole in your mouth? I felt bad but I didn’t let you in because you were really good at catching things but not so good at killing them. It had only been a few weeks prior that you had run inside with the biggest lizard I had ever seen, let it go and since it was still alive and only slightly injured it ran under the TV stand. I missed a Spanish midterm that night.
When we eventually left California for the colder and decidedly less sunny east coast you were not thrilled, but still you never gave up on me – you nearly ran away in Phoenix but you decided to stick it out. You traveled in the hot un-air-conditioned twelve year old Toyota Camry for six days refusing food and water and the comfy big bed I had outfitted for you in the backseat. Instead you opted to be hot and thirsty under the driver’s side seat – for 6 days in July – through Texas.
When we finally settled in Philadelphia we shared a wonderful house with your Aunt Beth and Mr. Furry pants. Remember Mr. Furry pants? I wouldn’t say you two were ever the best of friends, but you tolerated each other and found your own spaces and made it work. You were a real trooper and we had many good times all together in that house.
When you and I decided to leave and go our own way we moved into the top of Towne Pizza. Remember Towne Pizza? There were so many mice there – you kept a lot of them at bay just by your mere existence but every once in a while one would sneak in and you would be on it. I could always count on you to protect me. In that apartment we had a big shallow sink in the bathroom that you liked to nap in as it was the perfect size Ruka bowl. I would move you while getting ready in the morning and you would sit on the counter and watch me in stunned disbelief. One morning I dropped my ring down the drain and without hesitation you climbed into the sink, reached your paw down the drain and retrieved it for me. You were magic.
Remember when I met Jason and I brought him home and the three of us used to watch movies and he would always invariably fall asleep on the couch and become your personal cushion? Remember when the three of us got that little house on Rodman street the one next to the nosy super-gay neighbors? The neighbors who FREAKED out the first time I let you outside. Freaked out so bad that I never dared let you outside again when we lived there. You weren’t too happy about that.
Remember when the three of us moved to East Falls and the first day you were there you went next door to say ‘hi’ to our new neighbors and two minutes later all I heard was ‘Steph come quick there’s some crazy cat out here!’ because you tried to get INTO their house. And remember when their German Shepard chased you down the street and you climbed up half a sycamore tree to avoid her? Remember – it took weeks for your nails to grown back.
Remember when Guinness came to live with us and you were weary at first and didn’t want anything to do with him, but remember when you became friends and the two of you would sit downstairs at night after we had gone to bed and keep each other company? Remember when we brought Lucy home from the hospital and Guinness tried to pee on her and you just looked at me with silent dismay? You were not her biggest fan but you grew to love her and today when you had to pick a spot for your last and final nap it was her bed you crawled in to – not mine and not yours.
I had hoped when we moved you Swarthmore that you would once again get to go sit outside, explore nature and nap in the sunshine, alas it was never nice enough for you to get the chance to do that…
My dear sweet friend I am going to miss you so much. I have never met a cat that was more sociable, more friendly, more willing to greet me at the door when I came home from work as you were. I never wanted to have to make ‘the hard decision’ with you but in the end you wanted to fight more fiercely than your body would let you and couldn’t stand to see you suffer.
Already the house seems emptier. I hope you are in a place with giant lizards. Rest in peace.