Once upon a yesteryear, the household I grew up in consisted of my parents, my siblings, myself, my grandmother, assorted pets (dogs, cats, fish, a woolly bear caterpillar [okay, that didn’t last long, but it was a good lesson in accepting change]), and assorted temporary cohabiters (my dad’s army buddy, my uncle, my uncle’s fiance, my mother’s uncle, then her aunt too, not to mention less long-term visitors.)
Our open door policy (very literal, once our male Airedale’s neck started getting stuck when he got too excited over the doorbell or knocking) made for a rich and ridiculous (in the best ways) childhood.
Consistent through it all was the smattering of Yiddish that pierced the English and whatever languages we were studying in school (mostly Hebrew, Spanish, and French, but there was a smidgen of Cyrillic, too). At least, I thought it was just Yiddish that laced our language. As with assuming that the longest-term people in our lives were all blood relatives, I was wrong.
Many moons ago, yet far more recently than my childhood, I was disabused of the notion that “agita” was a Yiddish term. The Italian vice president of something or other was very surprised to hear me utter that I had agita. After a kinda fun discussion later, I figured out that my dad’s childhood in South Philly had peppered our speech with more than just Phillyisms like “djeet?” (did you eat?), “djou” (did you?), “squeet” (let’s go eat), and skimmutz (that’s a medium sweet, hilariously heartbreaking story for another time).
(I can feel Verde staring me down and commanding me to get a grip on this tail…er…tale.)
The source of my agita at the time has long since passed. That particular strain morphed and convulsed and became a cat-alyst for my midlife Renaissance. Please note, I did not say midlife crisis.
We are all familiar with the cliches of a grey-beard driving a Corvette (of course, a little red one), all-new-too-youthful clothing, or fresh ink.
Once again, pushing the mop bucket around as janitor to the stars (cats, man) gave me ample time to start thinking about “things.” In this case, I realized that the crisis I’d had was the reason I’ve been pushing around mops, swinging wand toys, befriending the fearfullest felines, and working at my current job.
The crisis was what came before.
Then came the empowerment: the point of breaking free, the midlife recognition that there was more to life. Then came the enlightenment – the ability to see a brighter, better, and infinitely more fun future.
I left that job. The time between jobs left me with time to fill. That time led me through the blue door to Tabby’s Place. In time, it led to my current job with a wonderful employer who actually treats employees like real people. (My boss also buys us bagels. Do not underestimate the importance of the occasional walk for bagels, nor the bagels themselves.)
Welcome to my Renaissance. It’s a magical place.
Happily, I’m not alone in my journey from agita to enlightenment.
Yes, in suite A, we see plenty of tummy troubles, but that’s not the focus. At Tabby’s Place, we see something else too: agitation.
Agita, in this sense, affects many of the Tabby’s Place cats at some time. Adam gets agita from Carbon. Okay, everyone gets agita from Carbon sometimes. Carbon is quackers (he literally quacks, as you should know by now) and unsettled and unsilent…EVER. He’s extra. Most of his suitemates manage okay, but agita happens.
Mishush is immune and even helps Carbon stir things up. Mishush is enlightened.
In suite C, lovely Mousy, with his clouded right eye, becomes agitated if approached suddenly from the wrong angle, or if accidentally zapped on the nose with static electricity (MEA CULPA!). Mousy doesn’t let small things like a spark between friends stop him from enjoying a nice scratch and some quality time. Mousy is enlightened.
Fabulous lounge lizard Shifty, lover of wet food and affection, gets agita when thumped ever so gently on his sides (MEA CULPA!). This sturdy grey tuxedo is extraordinarily forgiving and rebounds quickly. Shifty is enlightened.
Meanwhile, Tabby’s Place cats like Iris and Nyla, sway into and out of agita on regular tides that sometimes seem never to ebb. Their experience of agita is unique to each. Their road to enlightenment seems riddled with challenges to their peace, mostly because of living in suite B where they’d rather not be. Staff and volunteers are there for them, ready to provide comfort and care as much as these tiny titans will allow. Hopefully, we’ll be able to help them grow beyond agita to a more comfortable state. We can illuminate their world.
Although we are all just flickering lights in the night sky, we are sufficient for providing warmth and guidance. We see cat after cat, and many humans too, through the crises of the hour, day, year, decade. We help each other and our grand institution move beyond crisis right to miraculous on a regular basis. As a matter of fact, the future’s so bright for the cats, cast, and crew at Tabby’s Place, I think we need to invest in mass quantities of Wayfarers.