It’s midnight after a long Monday that started with me almost getting splatted by an impatient car that took offense over someone stopping at a crosswalk for me.
I keep hearing yowls from my Willow kitty, and that sounds makes me feel like she and I are a little too close in spirit lately. I can’t remember the last time I felt at home. I think Willow feels the same.
Tara’s perched on my stomach right now, her little raspy purr burbling in and out with every little breath she takes. Willow used to start every day on my lap while I ate my cereal. Now when she comes in my room, her tail is down and swishing, like she’s never seen it before.
I feel like her most days too.
Maryland is the eighth US state I’ve lived in. This August, California will become the ninth. I’d have to stay in one home for almost a decade without moving once to bring my average to one move a year. I’ve lost track of how many cities, let alone how many houses or apartments I’ve moved to, but I can count on maybe three fingers how many have felt like home.
I heard my kitty crying at 11:40, just as I was about to fall asleep. It filled my veins with tin and my heart with a sputtery beat that won’t let me sleep. I want to weep, because I don’t really know how I can fix it. I play with all the cats every day. Feed them together, where they eat peacefully in phalanx formation until a few hours later, I hear Willow scream.
I don’t know what’s shifted. Tara’s never involved — she is the lone little peacemaker.
California has begun to feel like the oasis in the desert, even though apparently there’ll only be a few months of water left when we arrive.
In my mind I picture us getting there and feeling fat rain drops falling on our faces, drinking in the relief of home while it drinks in the moisture. It’s a fantasy, and I know that. But it’s been a long, hard couple years, and I need to feel like something is better ahead.
I’ve spent most of my life yearning for a home I don’t know if I’ll ever find.
These two little kitties have kept me going this year. Coming home to see them waiting for me at the door, hearing them talk to me — they are my little furry family. I am harboring heartbreak in my chest, disguised by masking tape and the mantra of “keep it together” I’ve chanted along to its thubbing beat for who knows how many months now.
Tonight I remarked that I’ve lived each month for the next one lately. If I can just get through October, November, December, January, February, March, now April, then May, followed by June and July and this dreamlike August I’ve conjured up that may not ever exist the way I hope desperately it will.
I’m telling myself that all this work will be worth it, to get to move into a place where Willow and Tara have their own space. Where I can give them more than one cat tree and a room they don’t want to be in. Where Willow doesn’t end up in a corner licking her own blood from her face. I promised them a forever home, and I need to give them one where they feel comfortable and safe. I feel like this year I have failed them.
Tara is my little anchor, curled up on my chest. And I miss the days when Willow would wake me up by patting me gently on the face with her paw, then snuggling under the blankets to give my whole arm a bath. She’s always felt close to my heart, that Willow, and part of me feels like if I can just give her a sanctuary, maybe I’ll find one too.
I feel untethered, floating, adrift. I keep watching the trees for some sign of spring, and maybe the relentless dormancy of winter is part of why I feel like I’m running on ice. All I see are planted pansies, bright and sunny and simperingly fake. I know the green has to return one of these days, with a warm rain or a kiss of sunlight, but it feels a bit like the world is just holding its breath.
There are a lot of new people at work, and I find myself fearing the inevitable “Where are you from?” For most, that question is simple — “Where are your roots, and how deep do they go?” For me it always makes me wonder if I have them at all.
In about five hours, I’ll get up and shower and go to work. I’ll leave the house at 7 and get home at 7 too. I’ll write my words and build the chainmaille calluses on my fingers and hope the night will pass without hearing Willow cry. Because each day that goes by, I’m hoping I’m building a place where we can all thrive.
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