Dinner wasn’t easy. As our mutual friend said, “you guys had to get that out of the way.” We were sniffing each other out; making sure we were still the same person under all that growth (heh). But it’s true. You took some warming up to and I saw the concern wash over you. You think I’m a flip-flopper, but I was just unsure… unsure if it was real, of how to conduct myself, if I was being too forward or too lackadaisical… Afterwards I had to call you to check in and apologize for any weirdness or tension. “It’s been seven months since we’ve seen each other. Before this, we hadn’t been apart for more than two. And that’s why.” You were quick to dismiss any of it though you seemed to (and continue to) make it clear you won’t be disappointed with how we turn out, whether we end up together or not. That made sensitive/paranoid me worry that your having tasted something better made you lose interest in the possibility of us. Until…
I’m at work. And round the corner. And see you, sitting there wiith a plate full of brownies and a beaming smile. “Surprise,” you said. I’m bounding to you with a hug and got shit-eating giddy introducing you to everyone. They were right - you are a sweetheart. I know you saw how proud I was to show you off. Before, I didn’t do nearly as much of that as I should have.
You lit up my week.
You light up my life.
This is the story of a cat named Olive.
When Olive was very young, she was abandoned by the kitty who loved her most. We’re not quite sure why this happened, but one thing is for certain – sometimes, life isn’t always certain.
Being abandoned so young gave Olive little choice other than to brave a tough exterior. When anyone would get too close, she would hiss and swipe and scratch and bite if curious passer-bys were so unfortunate. But on the inside Olive was very scared. She’d never known another, nor one who’d not given up on this skittish but sensitive kitten.
At night, Olive would miss her family. What of them she could remember (which was very little, even though her memory was just as tiny as her furry frame). As people walked by she’d scurry away as to not get noticed. Some people walked loud. Some walked soft. Sometimes people would pass by in groups and would be very loud, shouting and stomping and not caring too much what the tiny grey kitten would think of such ruckus. Some people walked alone, very quickly and very quietly, which Olive preferred. And sometimes… people would walk by in pairs, strolling or talking, even laughing. And sometimes they would pass by holding hands. “That’s a silly thing.” She meowed to herself. “Why would they do that?”
Though Olive questioned such unusual activity she couldn’t stop thinking about it. It wasn’t just the way the boy took the girl’s hand in his, or how he put his arm around her to keep her warm from the cold breeze yesterday’s storm brought with it. It was the way she looked at him as he did it. She must have some affection for this boy, Olive thought. She couldn’t help but wonder when she’d someday feel such affection again. Olive thought for sure she’d never know such affection or love. And that was just fine. She’d been on her own for days now and though she was hungrier today than yesterday and even though the fleas were starting to really itch and the occasional worm would exit her bum she didn’t mind. She was tough as the claws she recently discovered she had… which weren’t that tough but she certainly believed they’d do for now.
That night was colder than the one before it and while she’d found some newspaper and an old glove to sleep on, she couldn’t stop her tiny self from shivering, just as she couldn’t help but dream of, when she she did drift off from being famished and hiding and hissing the day away, about those who’d passed by while she hid in the bush. The loud people. The people who went about their way or the couple who’d passed by, doing that odd holding hands thing. Olive found herself trying really hard to remember what the couple looked like. They were young and bright and red –cheeked, yes, that’s for sure. As she replayed in her head the way the boy took the girl’s hand, wrapping his arms around her, Olive began to feel sad. A tiny tear ran down her furry face as a wave of cold, deep darkness washed over her.
“She’s adorable, isn’t she?”
“What do we do?”
It took some doing to open her eyes, which were more crusted shut than usual, but when she did, she opened them to a blurry image of two figures.
“She’s awake! Oh, thank goodness! I thought…”
“Nah, she’s just fine.”
Olive couldn’t quite see with the goo in her eyes but her instincts told her to do as she usually did: run! She rose to her paws and trotted high speed toward this direction… and stopped, swirling and woozy.
“She’s so bony, poor thing. Honey, get a box!”
That one ran off. This one stayed. Ah, no! Just leave me alone!, she meowed. But the figure didn’t seem to understand her. He stayed put.
“It’s gonna be alright, fella. Er… girl?”
“Girl”, Olive mewed, running in the other direction.
The figure extended a hand, something in it. A clinking sound. A sweet smell. Milk!
“I shouldn’t take anything from strangers so, while that is awfully tempting, I’m going to pass and find someplace else to hide!”
Olive began to run but was quickly stopped by the other figure, who had returned with a box.
“Let’s put her in here and get her to the vet.”
“What’s that?” Olive hissed
Just then, a hand came swooping down. Olive’s reflexes, though worn to fumes, saved her from the snatching.
“It’s okay, sweetheart,” said the figure, “don’t be afraid,” the figure said, its image becoming clearer now. He. He wore blue. The other.. she… she wore pink.
Another attempt to grab little Olive. Two hands, this time! Olive swiped and hissed and swiped again. “Don’t you dare!” she meowed in a panic. “It’s okay, love… I’ll have to be firm but just this once. It’s for your own good, otherwise we’ll never get you help. Don’t you want to get better?” he asked.
Olive tried to answer but formulating the thoughts to make words gave her a headache and made her even more tired. “No way, I’m on my own…” Olive turned to run, but it was too late. The hand got her by the tail! Gripping her just long enough to get her in the box. And like getting a shot at the doctor’s office, it was over in a pinch. The kitty was overcome with panic until her body hit the soft, clean blanket lining this box. And she fell into a deep, deep, deep sleep.
When little Olive awoke, she was in someplace she’d never been before. A house. A small house filled with pictures and windows with rays of sunshine pouring through. She noticed she wasn’t as hungry as usual. She looked at a plate of food. A flashback… “ah yes!”, she thought, “I think I remember eating as much as I could fit in my mouth before falling back to sleep. But who would leave food out? Surely no one did that just for me…?”
Olive turned to a photo. In it, the boy and girl who had passed her by the day before. The ones who held hands. In the picture, the girl was looking at the boy in a way Olive certainly hadn’t been looked at before. His arms were wrapped around her just tenderly as it was when she saw them in person.
“Look who’s awake!” Olive heard exclaimed from the next room. The boy and girl entered and olive darted under the nearest piece of furniture. “It’s alright. She’s spooked. She just needs some time.” And so, the boy poured Olive a fresh saucer of milk and the girl fluffed Olive’s blanket and they went about their business.
Over the next few weeks, the boy and girl continued to care for Olive. Sure, the kitty would scatter when the two came around, but before long, she realized she was running away only because it was what she was used to.
So Olive went from eating only when the boy and girl left the room to letting them watch at safe distance of course, to letting them get closer and closer… until eventually Olive mustered up the courage after am nights of being invited on the couch or into bed, to finally join them. She jumped up on the couch and tentatively planted herself in between the boy and girl. The girl, resting her head on the boy’s shoulder made sure not to sir thte kitty with any sudden moves, whispering “I can’t believe it… she’s finally sitting with us”
“Oh yes,” the boy said, “it was only a matter of time” resting a hand gently on the cat, petting her.
“Why is that, you think?
“Because you never gave up on me,” little Olive meowed.
We’re having dinner next week. This is (technically) the moment I’ve been waiting for.
My best and wisest friend reminds me to remain objective. Despite the fact that I love and miss you dearly, the following remains true:
I was doing so well for weeks. All ducks were in a row. New job. New apartment. New girl (not girl friend just yet). I thought for sure I was moving on; that even though we haven’t seen each other since April I’d more or less put this situation to bed. I wanted to hear from you so badly and I still do but I can’t put my life on pause. Seven months ago I made a grandiose gesture and you weren’t ready. You may still not be. I know nothing, and I’m not about to bug our mutual friends.
The fact remains… you are the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing I think about when I go to sleep.
Fuck tall men. Fuck em. Fuck em in their lanky dirtstars.
something monumental happened yesterday, a step in the right direction. I’m elated because of how healthy your taking this step is. I’m elated not for selfish reasons but because I love you so much and all I want is for you to be healthy. You’re getting there, darlin.
It’s one step, but not the last. This may or may not be the beginning of the end. I just hope that whatever decision you make, you do what your heart tells you, and you leave nothing left behind unsettled.
I love you so much. I hope you know how much I do…