Last night, late -- I realized something was wrong. Nothing was on fire, there were no loud noises or alarm bells. There was just this sense that the picture I was looking at, the movie I was living in was missing an element. I couldn't put my finger on it at first, but there was just this nagging feeling..
The thing about relationships, the thing that makes them so powerful for people are the ways that they resonate when the other person isn't there. How much you miss them, or really to be more specific -- how much they seem to be a silent presence anyways. You can spend endless hours with someone and have it be powerful, but when you find yourself contentedly alone just knowing that the thought of them is close, like an invisible warmth in your mind, wrapped around you like a comfortable shirt or blanket..
Nothing hurts more than when that blanket is ripped away and you're left bare to the cold.
Long distance relationships. People with separate lives and only the most occasional of contact. I cannot always touch you, but we have the phone, the Internet, and the feeling between us that our hearts are there. It's not ideal, but sometimes it's all we have.
At the same time -- when you build something from radiated heat, when the warmth comes from light years away and it takes time to get there, it can be just as hard to let go. Just as difficult to recognize or accept that what started as a scalding hot bath has gradually become simply comfortably warm.
People ask me why I hang onto things, why I connect with people I cannot touch, talk to, or even know beyond words on a screen, a handful of fading letters, or the images in my mind..
It's like caring for a cat. The animal doesn't really need you. The instincts are hard-wired, the skills always available at a moment's notice, regardless of whether it's been outside or not. Cats don't often give affection as much as they allow you to give it to them. And even then, it's just as likely that the food bowl is empty or you're just the warmest thing to sleep next to on a chilly January evening.
But like any other pet, you connect with them on some level. You feel an affection from them, even if it's not as direct or clearly enunciated as it might be with others. Cats don't wag their tails when you come home. Cats don't always want to feel your hand petting them, even if you've lived in the same space long enough to know where the best spots are to scratch. Even after all these years, I still get my share of bites, scratches, and utter yawning disinterest from the one who's stayed with me since she was a kitten.
Long distance relationships. Torches held. Candles burning down to nothing.
I suppose if you've never been a part of something like this it makes as much sense as a dead animal left on a porch step as a gift.
Sometime last night, probably when I was helping my son carry his scooter down the stairs from my apartment to the street below, one of my cats slipped out the open door. She does this sometimes, as she likes to rub against the corners to mark them with her scent.
Most evenings when it's just me in the place, the cats sleep in little hiding places. Then when I finally retire for the evening they eventually make their way over and curl up against me. Territorial rules apply. Aja sleeps in the crook of my arm, Seka curls up against my side.
It was only when she didn't appear that I started to connect the dots.
And then suddenly everything around me felt very, very cold.
I walked around the parking lots and nearby woods for what seemed like ages. Shining a flashlight into the darkness looking for a tiny twin reflection back. Knowing in the pit of my stomach that she had probably been gone for hours at this point. That even if she was somewhere nearby that the odds of me finding her again were so utterly stacked against me. That in all reality when she stepped out of that door this time she had no intention of stepping back into the apartment once she had marked all the corners.
People will tell me it's just a cat. A pet. That when you really think about it -- she was never really mine to begin with -- that she was a free spirit, that her time with me was of her own choosing just as much as her decision to leave, to stop calling every day, or to open her heart to the warmth of someone else.
But I miss her. I miss her warmth.
And I wish.. I just wish she would come back.
[Now Playing: Textures - "Reaching Home" ]