Sunday, July 28, 2013

Must Love Cats

Looking for Love

Now that I find myself newly single at fifty, and just last night had a particularly wistful dream about James Franco (hey, aim high in your dream life says I!) it occurs to me that sooner or later I am going to have to start dating again. If the mere sight of that word sends a shiver down your spine, you are not alone, whether you are alone or not.  Dating is so scary nowadays, most people have turned the selection process over to computer programs and conduct much of their initial acquaintance through communication means that do not require being anywhere near their prospective mate. First HIV made us afraid to touch each other, now we can’t even be in a room together.  When did courtship become such a hands-off affair?

 Slice of Life 

It will come as no big surprise that I am more about falling in love than falling in line when it comes to current dating trends. I like my love the way I like the pizza slice you crave when you have a hangover – hot, messy, indescribably delicious and if you don’t feel simultaneously pleased and just a little disgusted with yourself there’s something wrong.  Before my last relationship I made the rounds of online dating sites.  There were a lot of men lurking behind their profiles perfectly content never to emerge in person.  I understand a certain degree of caution in “taking it to the next level” of meeting face to face, but there really is no better way to know whether you will actually get along with each other. Some things that work on paper – or screens – do not work in person. After all, if you end up living with this person, you will sooner or later have to have a conversation or sit next to each other. If you are only good together as pen pals or text buddies, so you should remain. 

Falling in Love

Of course, my “jump into the deep end of the pool to learn to swim” approach may make short work of a bad match, but, much like the metaphoric jump, can lead to a physical and emotional distress that feels like a near-death experience until you arrive at the other side, grab something that holds you up, and get out of the pool to catch your breath and then try again. Between the jumping and the arriving there may be a lot of drama, but all in all, it is a lot better than staring longingly into the water.  And after a few tries, the drama decreases, and you can actually enjoy yourself a little before the sensation of drowning resumes.

 On the Edge of Glory

So the question is, now that I have almost drowned countless times  – promise to end this swimming metaphor soon -  why would I want to have anything to do with this goddamned pool again? In real life, and in metaphor, I am what is known as a poor swimmer. I get where I need to go, but it is rarely smooth, definitely not pretty, and never lasts very long.  And yet, in life and in metaphor, I love the water. I love being in love. The scariness is part of the thrill you can only get in a high risk activity, and all you can break is your heart, which, I can attest, heals faster than a broken bone.

 Goodbye, Little P

As most of you know, in a week I am moving house. As I have not lived without some sort of companion animal for the past three decades, and will be saying goodbye to Little P, my feline friend of four years, along with her human father, one of my first acts as a newly installed single woman will be to go to the animal shelter and adopt a new kitty. I have already visited the Rutland County Humane Society once and the next time I visit I intend not to leave alone.  While I was there I fell in love - more than once. There is at least one cat still there (I check the online listings regularly), thoughts of whom are almost as wistful as my dream of James Franco, if not more.  I look at his photograph and a range of emotions rise up in me and my chest literally feels heavy and tight. I think – could I be looking at a living being who will be part of my life for the next dozen years? Is this the face that will be the first I wake up to every day and the last I see when I go to bed at night? Will he be everything he seemed to be or will he turn out to be an asshole?  Strangely, for so many animal lovers, with our animal relationships we feel we can’t just break up at the first sign of trouble and move on.  We are far more likely to dissolve a human relationship than give up on an animal.  With cats you have to get it right, or make it right.  Fortunately, they are way smarter than we are choosing their humans.  

 Marlowe 1996-2010

So it seems my first dating experience, from online acquaintance, to in person meeting, to that leap of faith that allows another being to be part of my life, will be with a cat. Which seems fitting, as the longest cohabiting relationship I have ever had was 14 years, with my cat  Marlowe, who proved to be all the wonderful things he seemed to be, was my best friend in good times and bad, and was also a bit of an asshole.   But once I have my new feline friend by my side, I will take a deep breath and return to my quest for human companionship.  He will make my heart feel a little heavy and tight just thinking about him. His kisses will be indescribably delicious. And of course, he must love cats.


  1. I really enjoyed reading this.
    Good luck to you and your new cat.

    1. Thanks for reading Joni - I am sure once I find my new kitty all of cyberspace will know! Have a great week.

  2. Or is open enough to learn. My smaller portion grew up in a cat hating household, and believed that he didn't like the sneaky, conniving beasts. When I discovered him carrying one of the cats from window to window 'so he can look out with a different perspective' I knew he had fallen under their spell. And they now rule him with iron paws.
    Hugs and love. Always.

    1. Funny how it goes with men brought up thinking they don't like animals - I came to pet ownership late precisely because my Dad had a similar upbringing. My Mom and I lobbied unsuccessfully for a cat for years. Then he happened to meet a Pug while on summer vacation and suddenly the ban on animals lifted, and we had, not our long awaited cat, but at least a dog that acted a lot like one!

      By the way, cats talk endlessly among themselves of the unique pleasure of conquering someone like your SP! I'm sure they took one look at him and said "ah, this one is going to be a challenge! But soon we will have him carrying us from window to window!"

      Many thanks for reading, EC, and your always wonderful comments. Sending you much love.

  3. Online dating will go down as one of the great self-delusions of the early internet age. I tried and tried, but it was always so awkward, the motivations at both ends so ephemeral, the scheduling too much a challenge, I only ever met one person whom I actually went out with. The chemistry was so good we might as well have met in real life, but even so, the relationship only lasted a month. By far the shortest I've ever had. Otherwise, you just have to go through life learning to be open to magic. As with a cat-hater suddenly coddling kitties, the magic is always unexpected, never designed.

    1. Hey Don - haven't seen you here in a while, but then again I haven't visited your space either, so sorry, very busy these days! Having had so many relationships, brief and lengthy, casual and serious, end regardless of their beginnings, I can't be sure anymore what works and doesn't, but I do believe if people are meant to meet, they will, one way or another, and whether it be a happy or miserable association, it sets each of them on their way to the next necessary part of the journey. People are so "end" driven these days, they like to rate their life's success in terms of what they get right that they can wave in front of people to prove themselves - it's so much easier than building a resume that entails brave sloppy adventures, deeply felt but fleeting experiences and basically trying to be a good person who lives life to the fullest! Here's wishing you some magic.

    2. These days maybe, or maybe we're seeing the tail end. I've always heard about broken or failed marriages, and was raised in (out of?) one myself ... and my ex still refers to ours as a failed marriage. But I say, wait, we raised two awesome young men and stayed together until they were adults, and irrespective of the length of time we had, mostly we had a good thing going while we were at it. What part failed? But that just pisses her off. No one likes their illusions and delusions and the structures by which they (in)validate themselves questioned.

    3. People like to have a clear win or loss in situations, or a clear winner or loser. It's such a waste of time, because, as you say, that distracts (and detracts) from the appreciation of all the things that went right, and all the good that came of it, and all the positive qualities and potential of a single human being, who can be many things at once, or at different times. But people are....people. Harumph!