“Dude, the more you try to run away from her, the more she’ll want to be near you. Trust me…you have to play it cool, be nice once in a while, and you’ll be fine. Just try it…seriously…you’ll see!”
I was drifting down the stairs towards a cup of coffee when I heard these words. Zelda, finally, had the run of the house at the same time as everyone else. The screeching and slamming of doors on J’s part has diminished. Slinky is no longer so much Indiana Jones’ whip as an instrument of territorial demarcation. The only time Zelda is sent to “the gulag” (as we now call the garage) is when we’re eating…the excessive enthusiasm with which she leaps on to tables, counters, chairs, etc. tends to cause a wave of destruction and disruption that we never experienced with Miss Pipa (who wasn’t entirely dignified as a kitten, but who wasn’t exactly a force of nature of the magnitude Zelda is capable of achieving.)
Early on Saturday morning, we left on an expedition to town. J was happy. He got dressed while we were getting ready (we thought we had a head start on him and were disabused of this notion when I was about to go tell him to get dressed…it doesn’t matter how ahead of the game I think I am, J’s even farther ahead.) Off we went…to the library, to the Farmers’ Market and to the cemetery.
I know this is probably not something everyone does for leisure. Well…we like cemeteries. J leaps out of the car and finds a place to sit, and there he communes with the peaceful environment that surrounds him and -judging by how happy and “talkative” he is- probably also communes with other things. We walk around reading headstones. We look at the rows of graves and try to imagine what the world was like when one group or another showed up to bury a loved one. We’re not grim or creepy about it, I hope; we just understand that this is as much a part of where we live as…well…the other people that mill about at the store, the schools, the parks.
My aunts used to say that you don’t truly belong to a place until you have someone born or buried there. My husband still belongs to California: his brother was born there and his mother is buried there. I belong back home, where my children were born and where so many of my people are buried. Judging by how mobile we’ve been over the past thirteen years of our life as a family, we need to make sure the urns in which our ashes are collected travel well.
We have tried to teach the children that death, the dead and cemeteries are not all about the sadness of loss. TGG -or, as I like to think of it, TGG’s inner child- is constantly preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse, or whatever it is they call it… Many years ago, we found a vast collection of empty root beer bottles under his bathroom sink; when questioned about this, TGG said “it’s for the molotov cocktails! Do you know how many zombies I can take out with one of those?” To each his own..
So on Saturday we went to a local graveyard; J then asked for lunch (while smiling happily and holding my hand of his own volition, thank you) and we went to eat. Yesterday morning we hopped across the state line and visited another cemetery. J’s only complaint was that there were no benches, but he walked happily around, touching headstones and listening to the wind rustling the red, gold, orange and copper leaves in the trees. We traversed the expanse of the cemetery with J’s hand gently resting on my shoulder. The weather was fine and we were all happy and relaxed.
The rest of Sunday was about getting ready for the week. Zelda ran up and down the stairs, leaping over furniture in the basement, curling up on beds, playfully sparring with Miss Pipa. J observed quietly, calmly, only requesting that Zelda be contained while he was in the kitchen making snack or eating. If we were holding the cat, he would come up, kiss her head, pat her back and say CAT very firmly. Zelda has learned that she needs to not move her head abruptly when he’s near her. To be quite truthful, her bright yellow eyes ARE kind of creepy…I don’t blame J for finding this unnerving.
By the end of day, when dinner was consumed, the kitchen had been cleaned, laundry had been folded and everyone was ready to gather into their beds for the night, I was happy and relaxed. Zelda had been a sticking point with J. He didn’t seem willing to compromise, and with colder weather in the not-too-distant future, the garage is not the best place for her to sleep. I sank into the bed and nestled on my side, looking at Dada and admiring how kind and handsome his face is. “That’s a good thing you did,” I said. He looked up from his computer game (I believe we were in Sicily…sometime during World War II,) with a quizzical expression in his eyes. “What did I do?,” he asked, looking back at the screen. “You know…you told J to not be so skittish with Zelda. That the more he freaks out about her proximity, the more she’ll want to be near him. That was good. He’s been a lot more calm and friendly since then.” I curled up and closed my eyes, a smile of contentment on my face. “Oh, yeah…that…Zelda…yeah. I’m glad it’s working,” Dada said and went back to his game.
I drifted off to sleep.
At three a.m. I sat bolt-upright in bed. My husband wasn’t just talking to J about the cat…he was also talking about ME!
Oh, well…I suppose the only wise thing to say about this is purr, purr, purr…meow.