Thursday, 1 May 2014

Faster Thrill Pussycat

by Rory A.A. Hinton


Isolation is the indispensable component of my happiness. When I have guests in my home I feel strangely estranged. I keep my entertaining down to a minimum. Above the front door of Plato’s Academy was a sign that read: “Let No One Enter Here Who Is Ignorant Of Geometry.” If I had a sign above my front door it would lack the last five words. I have nothing against the grammar of space. What I am against is the violation of my isolation. I can happily work a room when I want to. Isolation does not imply misanthropy. I am just a person who has figured out how I want to live.
     People have asked me if I was lonely living on my own. I have told them I am not. I have said that I am alone, but not lonely. They told me that I definitely needed a pet. This told me that they did not understand the distinction between alone and lonely. I have told them that I don’t want a pet. They thought I was cold and callous. I am warm and comforting, at least when I choose to be. I just felt that having a pet would be twos-a-crowd for me. 
     My warmth and comfort are freely given to those I love. And I love my kids. I would do anything for them: from reluctantly creating a FB profile because they wanted me to be socially mediated (G+ for me), to the point of agreeing to look after a cat. That is what I call fatherly love. Lucky for me they are wise beyond their years. 
     At first Levi kept to himself. Most days he would stay under my bed. That was fine with me. I left him alone. Giving him his space made him brave. He began to stick his head out from under my bed skirt. Just his head. He slowly looked around. He would see me looking at him looking. He would disappear under my bed again. 
     Cats need nourishment. I always make sure he has enough food to eat and water to drink. Cats need to be clean. I always change the litter for him. At first it felt like I was babysitting. I had no emotional connection to this animal. But he began to catch my attention, and create my attachment. 
     The first thing I noticed was his independence. I knew cats did things their way. But what endeared him to me at first was his style. It was stylish of him to seek his own isolation under my bed. He found his own place. It was stylish of him to break that isolation every so often with a black skirt. How fashionable of him. And it was stylish of him to pull off being alone, but not lonely. He is intensely present, yet independently absent. It was like a feline version of hiding in plain view. Then it hit me. Levi and I had something in common. He has a life to lead. So do I. Together we live in interdependent isolation.
     Levi has a routine to wake me up in the morning. He sits near the foot of my bed and meows until I lift up my head. When I lay my head down on the pillow again he runs into the sun-room. He jumps up on my black leather chair and starts scratching the glass window on my bedroom sliding door. After he does that he jumps up on my bed, walks slowly up to my face, and then gently touches his closed mouth on my lips. That is my cue to get up and make him breakfast. I fill his water dish and give him Friskies, but not before I give him a treat in the kitchen. When he has had his fill he gives me a satisfied meow and walks away. 
     He is intelligent enough to know what he wants. And I am kind enough to give it to him. He is smart enough to know he needs me, and trusting enough to bite the hand that feeds him. Our morning routine lasted a long time. Now he does something different. The other morning I was in bed with my eyes closed. I felt a tickle near my ear. I heard him gently meowing in my ear. Levi is learning about the practical benefits of aural fixations.


     I was in my study writing. I had not seen Levi for hours. I heard a strange noise coming from the bathroom. I had my phone in my hand (who doesn't?) and got up to see what it was. I walked into the bathroom. That he stayed still on the toilet paper he had nicely unrolled, while I took his picture, indicates his penchant for posing. After I took the picture he galloped frantically out of the bathroom. Curiosity thrills this fast pussycat. After the cat left I turned around and looked down the hall that leads to my bedroom. Follow the white rolled road. 


     It has taken me many months to realize just how loving it is having Levi here. And the love comes through the combination of his independence, his intelligence, and his curiosity. He will pounce on a paper clip and toss it around with his paws. Then he will run off as quickly as he pounced, digging his claws into my carpet with each stride. He bounces off walls trying to capture a beam of light. He lunges at birds that fly by my sun-room window. In the midst of this frenetic activity he stops on a dime and grooms himself with precision. Then he is off running again like a madman around and around my condo, stopping every so often to chase his tail. He hides inconspicuously, and jumps out at me unexpectedly as I walk by his hiding places. The space under my bed is one of them. Looking back I can see that he was obviously doing reconnaissance work during his first few days here, preparing for future attacks. So much for seeking isolation because he was shy. He was establishing his strategic independence by being coy.
     He quietly walks up to me, jumps on my lap, settles himself in by gently pushing my thighs with his two front paws, and rubs his head against my chest as he prepares for his cat nap. This might be his instinctive way of establishing his territoriality. No matter. He affirms me. 
     ADD is an instance of order without predictability. At least this is how my brain processes information. I know there is an order at work in making sense of the onslaught of so much information vying for my attention. And yet there is no predicting what I will focus on next. This is why I have so many projects on the go. ADD is the unpredictability. OCD is the order. Levi is the living embodiment of both for me. How warm. How comforting.

Cat food.
Toilet paper.