This post was supposed to be about my move last Saturday. I was going to write about hauling everything out of my old apartment and moving it a whole block and a half to the new place, about how I dragooned my parents and Cameron into packing and carrying all the stuff that comes with being the last person to move out of a shared apartment (anyone need any shot glasses? I have extras) and how Alice won massive friend points by driving all the way down from Berkeley to help, even though it was a ridiculously hot day that no one in their right mind would choose for any kind of physical activity. It was going to be a fun, moderately exasperated (thanks to the old landlord, grr) but ultimately cheerful post. But then, on Sunday, my cat died and I didn’t feel all that cheerful anymore.
I got her when she was eight weeks old and I was a sophomore in college. You were allowed to keep cats in the Caltech dorms; it was actually a determining factor in my choice of colleges. In retrospect, that may not have been the best way to handle that decision-making process, but it worked out okay. She was tiny when I got her, just a little double-handful of kitten, hiding behind the litter box in the cage the cat adoption people had set up at the pet food store. I named her Miss Marple, after the Agatha Christie character, though she ended up having little in common with that sharp and perceptive old lady. My Miss Marple would occasionally run headlong into walls.
She was always terrified of people in general, though she did warm up to me. Actually, she did more than warm up, she bonded to the point where she kind of became my stalker. If I ever went into another room (like, say, the bathroom) and closed the door, she would sit directly outside of it and wait for me to come out. In the morning, after I took my shower, she would meow from the time the water went off until I opened the door and let her in. Which is not to say she wanted me to pick her up and hold her or anything. I mean, she would let me, but she clearly considered it an imposition, at best.
Which was a shame, because she really was wonderfully soft.
I had Miss Marple all the way through college; even smuggling her in when I got stuck living for two terms in Avery, the crappy new dorm that didn’t allow cats. We shared a tiny, absurdly overpriced studio in Sunnyvale when I was working for a biotech startup there at the height of the dot com boom, and she moved back home with me for my unequivocally disasterous grad school experience, and ensuing year of unemployment/recovery. She stayed with me through my reentry into industry, though I believe she remained unimpressed by things like lab moves and clinical trial failures. She was, in short, a rare constant through all of what might be imaginatively considered my adult life. But, of course, nothing is constant, particularly pets, and I should know that. I guess I just thought she would be around to see a few more upheavals, whatever they might be.
I think she would have liked the new place. It has a balcony she could hang out on and plenty of birds in the trees for her to watch, plus lots of closets to hide in and make me wonder if it’s possible she could have actually dematerialized. She would have spent the first day under some piece of furniture (probably the futon), the next day rubbing her face on everything to mark it, and the rest of them trying to get into the rooms I wanted to keep her out of. Trust me, I knew her.