Posts Tagged ‘childhood’

My parents were prejudiced against cats. I never thought to ask why, and now it is too late to know. I can only speculate that such a fundamentally Catholic pair must have clung to some vague 13th Century notion that any cat was a manifestation of the Devil. As such, we were instructed to throw debris at any feline who unknowingly strayed into our territory; because who wouldn’t teach their children to drive away demons from the yard? I don’t remember seeing many cats back then, anyway.

Until the day one landed in my lap.

I must have been eight years old the summer that we visited the Pickett family out in the boondocks of Indiana. It was a sweltering night when I found myself perched on the steps of their front porch, undoubtedly with siblings close by, and simply observing what was happening around me as a stealthy, skinny little creature slithered into my lap and curled up, falling fast asleep (or so I thought at the time). I don’t remember petting the thing, though there is no way I could have resisted at least touching it, the way you might reach out to touch a strange bird or a colorful fish underwater. The heft and the warmth of the body that hung in the hammock of skirt between my knees still lights up a neuron in my brain. The thing fell asleep in my lap, and I didn’t disturb it. I had been chosen, for whatever reason inexplicable to me at the time, and the sanctity of that trust froze me there on the sweltering stoop, forgetting to breathe.

At some point it must have arbitrarily decided, as cats do, that it was satisfied with my company, and disappeared into the night without a backward glance.

It would be another ten years before I touched another cat. The rest, as they say, is history.

Read Full Post »