(Wallpaper at Yellow House Books, Great Barrington, MA.)
One of the cats took a nap on the bed and I fell asleep next to him, and when I woke up, it was dark, and I had no idea of the time or where I was.
Autumn so far has consisted of drinking coffee I made the day before, typing while laying down so as not to disturb the cats, and making cranberry sauce so tart only A and I will eat it. Listening to podcasts about ghost stories and murders. Sitting on the bus or the train or in the kitchen with my earbuds in but no actual sound coming through. Taking Buzzfeed quizzes because making choices about shirts and tropical destinations makes me feel better for some reason. Gratitude seeping in, then out, and in again.
On Twitter, someone talked about having to put their cat to sleep, about holding her while the doctor did it, and after I read it, I cried, just like that, like something snapped, like a bone had just broken, and instead of going into shock, I felt it immediately.
It in 55 degrees in Massachusetts, and I am outside drinking a cup of coffee from this morning. I am terrible at my birthday, it’s always a combination of stress and sadness and confusion. Not about the age I’m turning (yet), but how I’m supposed to feel and behave and how the day will be remembered. Last year, it was Thanksgiving, or close to it, and A and I watched TV and then people came for dinner and someone took two hundred dollars from B’s wallet, which was in their coat, hanging up with all of our coats, on a rack, like a family.
J and I have been listening to Theft By Finding, David Sedaris’s diaries, while we drive somewhere – town, the Berkshires, to get Chinese food from a place I used to get Chinese food from with my mother. Different location, same restaurant, same kind of enormous fish tank with goldfish that look like they might be on steroids and on some level, happy about it. Theft By Finding is a perfect thing; odd, terse, just the right details, just enough longing. I imagine him combing, actually combing, all the pages he’s accumulated over decades and decades, and the right words fall out of those pages, because that’s all the was there to begin with.
This year, A asked if there was a way I could reframe my birthday, so I would feel better about it. I am using it to think about how, in a way, I have quit on myself, and how I would like to un-quit. Coffee helps, it makes everything feel possible, but also, it’s like a race to keep that feeling, to do something with it, before the cup is empty and you have to start again.
J has a neighbor who owns a huge grey cat named Tigger, and they take walks a few times a day around the neighborhood. Tigger is 16. Someone told J that if your cat lives past 15, they’ve made it.