I want to go to the planetarium.
I want to buy a new bath towel.
I want everything to remain exactly the way that it is, and I want everything to change for the better.
I don’t know what I want.
If I were a certain cat, this would not worry my little mind.
If I were a certain cat, of course, I would not have a little mind. I would not occupy a floral-wallpapered escape room, with doors locked from the inside but fingers too burden-buttered to grip the knobs.
I would glide like a pearl from want to wonderment, from need to now, from past to presence.
I would be a Pearl of the world, and joy would be unjammed.
Of all the cats at Tabby’s Place, Pearl is not the first you’d call an icon of joy. Unlike the star-spangled celebrants who blare their bliss, Pearl is a walled garden of secrets she aims to keep.
You can tell what Dani and Hips and Olive want. You can tell, because they tell you: pouting and pushing and pressing their faces against the glass of life or your leg or the holy portal to Foods Most Moist. They are the parade; they are the panache; they are the petals strewn all over your path, hot yellows and insistent reds.
Pearl is the rose window.
With eyes that haven’t seen, in the traditional sense, since kittenhood — maybe ever — Pearl can’t perceive what she wants in the way we can.
I want the third taco from the left.
I want a hug tight enough to remind me I’m flesh and blood.
The cathedral looks dark from the outside, the clouds in her eyes sheltering the last roses of summer. As Pearl pads across the Community Room, snowdrop feet following an unsung chant, she’s as hungry as we all are. But she doesn’t tell us, not on her face, not in haste, not with any sort of grasping.
She walks an unseen mandala, unfurling spirals that don’t need functional eyes. There are labyrinths here, nonlinear rivers where you and I can only see linoleum.
I want the roses to survive the winter.
I want to keep the lights on so I don’t get lonely.
And then, wanting waxes like the moon. All the candles in the cathedral come on, and the rose window glows. Weightless, unburdened by our butterfingers and our butterfly minds, the treasure takes flight, landing in the jewel-box of the window.
She wanted sun, which doesn’t need to be seen to save you. She wanted another wispy body within yawn’s reach. She wanted the gasp of the humans who never “get” the glory of a Pearl at peace.
I want the writing and the loving to always flow like breath.
I want every kitten to survive to adulthood.
In another moment, the moment will pass, and wants will whisper Pearl to a new perch. A loud sound or a loud soul may break her peace and snuff the candles; snowy serenity may shoot forth thorns and hedges. She may get what she wanted, only to lose it, only to be a gem in motion again.
The search for fullness never fully ends.
But unlike me, Pearl can pace the string of her wants without worry.
I want to be able to assign people nicknames as tender as the ones we give cats — Fluffernugget, Buttermuffin — within five minutes of meeting them, and become instant friends.
I want to find a hoodie soft enough that the world is safe.
Unlike me, Pearl remembers: the last rose of summer, isn’t. What’s lost in this instant will be returned, redeemed, reborn, if only we keep wanting, lighting, blooming, blessing the moment by moment by moment.
I want to operate a starcraft and not need the planetarium anymore.
I want to not be afraid anymore.
The cat who has walked in darkness most of her life knows how not to forget the light. The cat with cloudy eyes and a crush on invisible sunshine can remind us: the long, thin valley and the darkened hallway are the likeliest places to bump head-on into the Big Mercy.
I want to be at peace.
I want to remember that I’ll never find the final thing, but every bead and beat is worth its bloom.
I want to be here, with you, in the cathedral, in the garden, in Tabby’s Place.
I want to be a pearl in the world.