Archive for the ‘Cats’ Category
Nice little essay by Hannah Louise Poston in the New York Times:
When his depression was at its worst, my partner, Joe, would wake up in the morning engulfed in a fog so palpable that its presence would sometimes startle me awake, as if I had smelled something burning.
During the first few years of our relationship, I often wished he would roll over with a cheery “Good morning!” and a kiss instead of stumbling blankly out of bed, zombielike, toward coffee.
I eventually figured out that lying alone in bed and fantasizing about a nondepressed Joe was a terrible idea. It made me grumpy, and then we would both be having a bad day.
So, in as chipper a manner as possible, I would pull on my bathrobe and rubber boots and go gather the delicate blue eggs of our housemate’s Aracuna chickens.
At my approach, the floor of the coop would animate into a rustling whirlpool of hay and fur as a pack of rats scurried back to their nest behind the compost bin. Rats had overrun us, and wishing they would go away was no more effective than wishing Joe would stop being depressed.
“We need a kitten,” I would announce nearly every morning as I arranged the warm eggs in a basket on the kitchen counter. I lobbied hard, explaining that even if it didn’t grow up to be a ratter, just having a cat around the house would deter infestations.
Joe wasn’t sure about the kitten. He was always skeptical of seemingly rash ideas — slow to accept new things, slow to change.
“Have you thought about why you want a kitten?” he asked me one evening.
“What do you mean, why?” I was insulted. He seemed to be implying that, beyond the rats, I may have unhealthy reasons for wanting a kitten. “Why does anyone want a kitten? It’s a kitten.”
“It just seems like it will take a lot of energy,” he said.
Joe and I were close to our relationship’s three-year mark, the point at which, a study had shown, a swath of long-term couplings end. (“The 7-Year Itch Is Now the 3-Year Glitch,” one article said.)
His depression came in frequent cycles, often lingering for days. During those days, if I brought home a pint of mint-chocolate-chip ice cream (Joe’s favorite), it would go unremarked upon or even uneaten.
No, he did not want to go to a movie or go dancing or have sex. Any offering, even that of my own body, would tumble into the gray sinkhole, rendering me ineffectual and pathetic. I learned that the best way to love Joe during those times was to leave him alone.
“You can’t cure depression,” Joe told me once. “You can only get better at living with it.”
I got better at living with it; I started buying my own favorite flavor of ice cream instead of his. And when I finally drove across Portland to the Oregon Humane Society one day in August, I did it secretly, rebelliously and entirely for my own inarticulate reasons.
It had been a particularly difficult week. My carefully honed strategy for loving a depressed man was to help myself instead of trying to help him. “And today,” I thought as I pulled in to the humane society parking lot, “I am helping myself to a kitten.”
When Joe arrived home that evening, the kitten — just a pinch of striped fluff — popped out from under the bed. I took a long breath, ready to defend my decision.
But then I saw her sly green eyes holding his handsome sad ones, and it seemed as if there were fireworks and unicorns leaping, the aurora borealisdescending between them. When the kitten tried to vogue, swoon and crab-leap sideways all at once, consequently tripping over her paws, I think Joe’s eyeballs may have rolled back into his head to reveal two glittery pink hearts pasted onto his sockets in lieu of pupils.
The next morning when we woke up, the first words out of Joe’s mouth were, “Where’s the kitten?” And the kitten’s first act, when she heard his voice, was to ice-pick her way up the quilt and jump on his face. . .