For the first time in years, there are cats in my life on a day-to-day basis.  It’s been ages since I’ve had a cat at my feet, a cat’s expectant face looking up at me as I eat, a warm, furry body behind my head on the couch.  I’d forgotten about needing a special outfit just for lounging around the house so as to spare the rest of my clothes from being covered in fur.  I’d also forgotten that even after taking such precautions, there is no such thing as a closet that is “off-limits” to a cat.  It’s been a long time since anyone has been this grateful that I have thumbs.

Roo and Bear passed away earlier this spring, and with them, the remaining ties to my childhood.  My sister and I went to a pet store this weekend to buy cat food (btw, her cats only eat Disney brand Aristocats cat food – she’s tried to feed them other brands, but they only eat the Disney) and they were having an adoption fair.  We walked over to the kittens and my sister pointed to a gray tabby.  “It’s a Roo kitty!” she said.  I glanced over at the kitten and saw that he did indeed look like Roo, even down to the peach (pecan?) tummy.  Caught off-guard, I looked away quickly, surprised by the sharp and sudden sadness that I felt.

I always get a little down at the beginning of a break.  It takes a few days for me to switch gears and I’m easily exhausted and don’t have much to say.  I guess it’s not surprising given how introverted I am.  All the quiet has given me some time to take stock, to look at my accomplishments and failures over the last year.  I admit, it’s hard to feel proud of anything I’ve done this year.  I kind of feel like an athlete who sustained an injury during competition, but still stuck it out to the bitter end.  I made it, but it wasn’t pretty, and there’s no Bela Karolyi to carry me on to the podium.  In fact, I’m not even sure I placed.  And for what?  I can’t even sit for my boards until January.  (I am, however, proud that I managed to work an Olympics reference into this post.  Who’s excited for Friday?  ::points to self:: This girl.)  I also feel that my “personhood” took a big hit this year – I reverted back to a lot of old habits, ones that I thought I’d worked hard to change.  And I still can’t believe how much I miss San Francisco.

I’m trying not to dwell on it and I’m trying not to go into analysis mode – watching everything in slow motion trying to figure out where I went wrong so that I won’t make the same mistakes next year.  Instead I’m trying to treat myself as I treat my sister’s neurotic and needy pets (she knows they’re neurotic and needy, so it’s okay if I say this) – providing ear scritches and belly rubs on demand, offering comfort and soothing words during thunderstorms, remembering to feed, walk and love regularly and unconditionally.

They say that people who live with partners live longer.  They say cats lower your blood pressure and stress levels.  I find myself cooking and cleaning a lot here at my sister’s.  I don’t mind doing it at all.  It’s my way of saying thank you, of making things a little easier on her and Juan (plus, they own a Shark steam mop, which is pretty much a neat freak’s wet dream).  I’d forgotten how important it is to live with someone you care about, even if it’s not another person (living with a cat is part of my five-year plan).  It’s nice to have someone to care for, and in turn, be reminded to care for yourself.

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