How are you holding up, kittens?
Are grit and grace and determination holding you together like so much magical nougat, or is the cheese sliding off your cracker?
We’re nearly a year into The Great Strangeness, and from what you and Great Aunt Metroid* and everyone are telling me, it’s the “tiny” things that are keeping you in one piece.
The nugget-sized normalcies.
The unfailing daily freckles.
We know something about rituals in our species — behold our limping, lovely efforts to keep Christmas and Chanukah as normal as possible, even if that meant eating green bean casserole on screen whilst holding one’s phone — but cats are the true professionals here. From the newest, goofiest kitten to the weariest old wanderer, cats know their routines, and they delight in them.
Like saints, angels, and children, cats are not concerned about being boring. No. They will eat the same fish mush at 9:00 every morning, with the same level of breathless excitement as the first time they tasted it. They will retreat to the same mauve blanket at 9:14 every morning, never feeling the need to freshen up the place with new colors for a new season.
They will rope you in, too, seemingly for their own benefit, but mostly for yours.
Clark will expect you to pet him every time you return from an absence — be it five minutes or five weeks — and to comment on what a glorious wonderbeast he is.
Angelo and Mary and all the madcap marvels of Suite A will expect you to turn on the light at the same time every morning, to return them to the serene darkness at the same time every night, and to hug them often in between.
Givens must be given, and rituals and routines can establish themselves surprisingly quickly. If you take Anka on a stroller ride at 2pm two days in a row, you have now committed yourself to take Anka on a stroller ride every day for as long as time endures.
It’s good for them. But, honestly, it’s better for us.
Collective or tenderly personal, our rituals keep us together in uncertain times (and those are the only times that exist). I can’t explain why it’s exceptionally comforting for me to eat a strawberry cottage cheese before I sit down to write every morning. I can’t tell you why it helps keep my world together that my favorite radio station has an Americana Music Hour every Sunday, no matter what’s going on in the world.
I don’t know why we need the rhythms and the routines, the coming and going of Christmas and New Year’s, the boring luminous ordinaries. Losing them makes us fear we’ll lose ourselves.
But they come back, and we come back.
And even when everything is in question, we find ways to keep the beat.
So delight in the daily, and bliss yourself out in the boring, kittens. These are the days for nestling in the normalcies that are not-so-secretly great gifts.
Just don’t forget your date with Anka.
*I do not actually have a Great Aunt Metroid. I wish I did. If you have one, can I be her honorary niece?