Saturday, March 11, 2017

11 Los Gatos

Saturday morning, and Mister Foo's expression is exactly mirroring my state of being... exhausted, unresponsive, very sick to my stomach, and overall just meh. I surrender. Seriously though, that stomach thing was wicked.

Cats. Pets. I love it when we have a pet that can channel the things we want to express, can't describe, would like to be or do or state. We assign them quirks, and narratives, we tell their stories, or pretend that they tell our stories. We relate to their personalities, and share with each other a common recognition of each pets' unique behaviors, attitudes, habits, foibles, limitations, endearments, charms... and it gives us a means of projecting our own faults and gifts on these dear beings, so we can better face them in ourselves, with humor and humility. Somehow, blaming the cat for messes and weirdness makes my own messes and weirdness feel more human, more forgivable. Chango has a soft belly, like me. Mister Foo is moody, like me. Cairo loves his naps, like me, too. They are the members of the family that we can, with impunity, point a finger at, blame for anything, dote on, adore, laugh at, tease, deride, and love. Am I making sense? Do you see it, too... that there is something in our pets that can bring everyone together to participate in a communal contract of admiring, mocking, caring for, and blaming, protecting and loving, and that it affords a shared language for feelings and ideas that we might otherwise withhold, or direct at a person who would take it too much to heart?

Chango is indifferent to the fact that we call him Old Man, and Grandpa, that these namesakes are derived from his doddering age, his advancing senility, the long stories he meows aloud at 4 o'clock in the morning, his gentle affections. So long as he has his water bowl on the night-stand, and wet food for breakfast, he only knows that we love him. And thanks to him, we can express pent-up frustration, which might otherwise be suppressed, or directed at any innocent by-stander, when Chango hangs his claw in a pant leg, or waits to go out, and wants right back in.

Cairo may not understand that he is my surrogate baby, or that he helps Max transition from the stresses of the week, when he can hold him and transition back into home. Max doesn't have to say, "Holding you helps me express my anxiety and missing home after a long week away at school, and now I feel calmer, reconnected to the comfort and familiarity of being back here, at home." But it's there, somehow, the opportunity to, without words, acknowledge those ideas, feel those emotions, and relief.

Mister Foo's story is one we each know, and tell. We build our own family story, our connectedness with each other, through recalling that trip, when Foo climbed the walls. The time Foo fell from the second floor. Maybe it's the removal of ego that makes these narratives and connections between us feel easier to share, and retell, that makes them comfortably relatable. By being a proxy, our pets can represent humor, grief, worry, embarrassment, struggle, flaws, bad smells, affection, and thus we can safely express our own qualities and sentiments, without liability, unencumbered by accountability or justification. It's a release.

It's satisfying, however it might be explained, that we all agree... Cairo is adorable, trusting, and silly when he naps so blithely unaware of anything.

I don't want to discuss missing babies, or wishing I could snuggle with a warm, affectionate bundle of mammal cuteness. I have these kitties, though, and I can find relief, quiet contentment in their presence, in believing that here is a fur baby, without saying anything, or even by saying too much, as I dote and nuzzle and shower them with endearments, smother them with motherly fondness.

Being alive, a human, is complicated. It can call for a lot of thinking, acting, understanding, patience. Being part of a family is even more complicated, demanding. It helps strengthen our connectedness, our bond, and our individual sense of well being, to have different ways of relating with each other, and with the outside world. When we can have multiples means of directing our thoughts and emotions, building our history, values, our common story, it eases burdens, reinforces what binds us together, or to common goals, it gives us outlets for our assertions, and facilitates communication.

Something like that.
It's hard to explain.
Here... look at my cats.

The youngster and the grandpa cat don't always get along. Chango and Cairo renegotiate their truce several times a day. But one thing they consistently agree on... when the Chickenblogger leaves the bed, we can take her place, because she thinks we are adorable.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

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