When I was in high school, all of my best friends were boys.
Each January, I prevailed upon them to join my “Banish Winter Campaign,” which entailed wearing our brightest possible colors every Friday. In my case, this was a ghastly glorious rainbow; in theirs, T-shirts in various shades of olive green, frequently bearing the words “NO FEAR.”
They were the terror of AP Physics.
I miss my gentle, nerdy boys. But as it turns out, they live on all around me at Tabby’s Place.
Spring is here now, full and strong, but we’re still feeling a little pale and pallid. The flowering pears may be doing their thing in front of Tabby’s Place, but the truth is, we could all use an infusion of color.
The pandemic isn’t quite done pancaking us, but there’s little time to limp through grief-gardens, not now.
In the immortal words of Bilbo Baggins, we’re presently a bit “like butter scraped over too much bread.” Tabby’s Place has been in a state of tsunami, under a continually erupting volcano, all of which is helplessly aloft in a whirlwind. Actually, words like “whirlwind” are far too weak to paint the proper picture in your mind.
None of this is a bad thing. It’s just a mad, mad, mad, mad thing. In the past month, we have taken in several platoons of cats from several countries (platoons = scant exaggeration; several-ness of countries = 100% accurate). Every one is a wonder. Every one is a revelation. Every one is different from all the other ones.
And in their own way, every single one is anxious, expectant, uncertain of this bizarre place and its peculiar personnel, a stranger in a land so strange it makes strangers feel…stranger.
Tabby’s Place is technicolor love, tie-dyed tenderness, fade-proof devotion. But we can’t blame the cats — new and nervous — for not recognizing that instantly on arrival. And maybe we shouldn’t blame ourselves for the days and hours when we, too, feel faded. Bright colors can be overwhelming. Bold love can befuddle.
It’s enough to make a sweet, skinny soul slap on a T-shirt screaming NO FEAR! until they can believe it inside.
So we’ll be patient with these cats — the literal wall-climbers from Oman, the languid love-bugs from Lebanon, the jittery North Carolina gems and the nervy knock-out New Yorkers, the ringworm-riddled and the righteous and the resilient and the real.
Each one has been through more than we can ever know.
Each one will offer us lessons and love and healing and courage we’ve never seen, if we’ll let them.
Each one has sampled sadness.
Each one needs us and our obnoxiously bright colors.
Each one will help us to live forward with just a little less fear, if we’ll let them.
And so we’ll stride on through this mad, mad, mad, mad spring together, even if there’s only enough light for the few steps ahead, especially then. May mercy and affection and silliness (O sacred silliness!) be the machetes that help us to clear the jungle, step by naked step.
No fear? Maybe that’s too tall an order. But when you’re surrounded by cats — gentle and ferocious, nerdy and elegant, storied and splendid and yours to adore in this very moment — you have the company you need to face the whirlwinds and the weirdnesses.
Let’s wear our truth-telling T-shirts (or not, as the case may be) and keep reminding each other that everything is, in fact, going to be OK.
It’s true, kittens of all colors. Several platoons of cats promise.
Pictured top to bottom, all new and true and ready to be adored by you: Shelley, Jezzie, Dahlia, Nemo, Miss Carrot, El Tigre