There is so much we can’t understand.
The strange communion between cats and sinks.
The way fear can birth meanness or mercy.
The existence of free will.
The existence of “Is It Cake?” a program in which persons slice questionable items to determine the presence of pastry.
Ourselves. Each other. Cats.
If you listen to cats (a practice I recommend), you might start to understand: understanding is overrated. Understanding is found under more important blankets. Understanding is, frankly, cake.
Mystery is the main meal. Chicken Nugget, Porkroll, and Cornbread should know.
(Is cornbread cake? Discuss.)
Refugees from the same prison that sent us Muffin, Habanero, Poblano, and Taylor Ham, this bashful breakfast combo came to us by chance rather than choice.
If they had their druthers (“The Big Druther” being an excellent name for a future Wawa sandwich), they would have remained al fresco on their rambling campus, where sympathetic inmates provided processed meats and other cafeteria paraphernalia.
But druthers are not ours to demand. And state and local officials are too distracted by drudgery to deliver cats from a soon-to-be-shuttered prison.
So it was up to Tabby’s Place to take in the breakfast club, cat by cat.
Muffin made the most of this shiny new diner. What Tabby’s Place lacked in mac ‘n cheese, we made up in cardboard trapezoids of gelatinous fish, as well as hugs. Muffin was a novice in Huggology, but hungered her way to the head of the class, and on to adoption, where life is a colossal cupcake of charm.
(Are muffins cupcakes? Discuss.)
But our other entrees have been content to chase Cheerios around the bottom of the bowl for awhile. And that, in the kitchen of cats, is entirely acceptable.
Chicken Nugget, unpinned by inability to understand us, overcame adversity by going overhead. This is a tortured way of saying he moved into the ceiling tube connecting Suite FIV to the solarium, and he would not be moved.
He would not be moved when Cornbread (neither yellow nor brave, neither crumbling nor buttery, an entire Cracker Barrel of puzzle toys left unsolved in a single sturdy cat) attempted to move him. He would not be moved when Sky threw planets at him.
He would not be moved at dinner. He would not be moved at breakfast. He would not be moved when we got desperate and offered hand-tossed liverwurst Toaster Strudels.
(Is Toaster Strudel cake? Discuss.)
But in our hurry to understand what’s going on, we missed something crucial: Chicken Nugget was moving. His heart was growing. His hope was hungering. He was beginning to begin to begin to begin to be breaded in bravery — a process that takes as long as it takes.
He let himself feel uncomfortable. He let himself feel our fingers, fat little fish sticks flickering into the tube to feel his stripes and make him feel loved in spite of himself.
Today, he’s feeling less nugget, more gold, in a new suite he shares with Sky, Audrey, and Cornbread in Quinn’s Corner.
He’s feeling the sweet and the sun and the questions without answers.
This is a process unscrambling anxious eggs all over Tabby’s Place.
Across the universe in Suite D, Porkroll is curling into a crepe of questions. All cherub cheeks and silken stripes, her bunched-up beauty is not ready to report to brunch. She does not understand why she is here, or what we are about, or what existentialism is about, or what her own temperament is about.
She is growing as she goes, and her faith — in us, in the ground beneath her feet, in her best friend Mullet — precedes understanding.
Where is her heart taking her that her rolling brain can’t follow?
Is there room in the breakfast nook for us all?
We understand so little.
We are loved so much.
We are more okay than our busy brains bleat.
Here in the broilerlands, our lives ask more questions than they answer. But we are blessed to be in the fellowship of the hash browns, toasted tremblers who are too treasured to stay as scared as we think “makes sense.”
We will be loved to the table, like it or not.
I don’t presume to understand.
But I believe in it with all my heart.
I’ll see you at breakfast. Bring cake.