Still and ever

Still and ever

There was a time when kinfolk cloistered in Brooklyn brownstones or Omaha homesteads, Italian and Swedish singing across the clotheslines and generations.

There was a time when Suite C was Suite C, and cats of a certain fatness stuffed the years like rollatini, together for (a) forever or (b) until someone slimmed their way elsewhere. Which is to say, (a).

Now we are scattered. But true bonds never break.

As the suites of Quinn’s Corner fill like breathing ravioli (which is also the name of Gator‘s secret Smash Mouth tribute band), cats are on the move.

FeLV+ suites are in higher demand than an $11/night AirBnB on the Amalfi coast. (They are also, Boba would have you know, far dreamier. Mediterranean yacht people have nothing on the bright orange window seats of Ringoes. Although, it would be OK if they would send over some of those fancy mozzarella orbs.)

Office suites house CEOs who skipped their anger management classes. Tyrannical tycoons Gator, Anka, and Denali have the wearisome task of babysitting slobbery humans. In exchange, they receive their preferred compensation package: Only Cat status. (Retraction: Anka would prefer a roomful of cats. Edible cats in need of exuberant beat-downs.)

But then there are the Reunion Suites.

This is not their formal name, although little that matters is formal. This was not by design, although we are fortunately not the lead designers of anything.

This was just what happened. Adding a leaf to the Tabby’s Place table made room for scrumptious surprises.

First came the feastie boys, the combined carby forces of Chicken Nugget, Cornbread, Sky (who says his name is somehow short for Calzone), and den mother Audrey. In our original Suite FIV, they packed themselves like pierogi into their fears (and, quite often, the ceiling tube). They hid and huddled, a neighborhood of nerves. We could scarcely slip them a meatball of mercy through the cracks in their fear.

The old country, known and safe, was doing them few favors.

Audrey + Sky: reunited and it feels so good.

So we whirled them into a new world. There was no milk and honey, but an abundance of orange window seats, and Boba bellowing hellos down the hallway, and comfy new cubbies where carby quaking cats could be socialized sweetly.

There was so much light, beautiful and terrifying as only light can be, and so much change, old faces missing and new faces grinning like gourds. (Let the reader understand that every cat thinks every human resembles a warty gourd. We must accept facts.)

The world they knew came apart. So they did what families do: they came together.

They layered themselves like lasagna. They loved each other like life. Audrey crocheted them an early Halloween costume called “Four-Headed Cat.”

Chicken Nuggetry is still a developing science

The seismic activity of their lives could not shake them from one another. They trusted each other before; they trusted each other from separate carriers (yes, we made them fly coach); they trust each other now.

And in the bite-sized mystery of courage, they are trusting us, treat by treat. (I wanted badly to write “meatball by meatball,” but journalistic integrity and the potential wrath of Anka bridle my poetic license. Quoth Boba down the hall: “SEND MEATBALLS. IS EMERGENCY.”)

Separation and relocation have braided the cords of love between Signor Nugget and his famiglia. And right next door, the same story sings in a different accent.

In twenty years and four thousand cats, few of our residents have nabbed the ten-year trophy. (This is fortunate, as there would be an insurrection if they all knew that it is not filled with mozzarella orbs.)

But our extended-stay elites have experienced more of Tabby’s Place than most. By the time you have become a Steven or an Elijah or a Boom, you have swung from Suite E chandeliers; lived large in the weight management suite; and perhaps dueled diarrhea in the oft-mopped Suite A.

You have seen friends come and go, birds on a jet stream you can’t catch any more than the meatball in last night’s dream. Whether they are adopted or elected Chancellor of Chipotle, you will never know.

We may lament that our relations are scattered like oregano, but at least we have screens. Our earthy ancestors called across the clothesline and passed the potatoes, but we sit on their shoulders as we commune over memes and Zoom from the heart. Community has long arms, and hugs improvise across time zones.

But cats are not linked in, and for all they know, they will never see their kinfolk again.

So what happens when, in an improbable turn on an unlikely planet…they do?

This was the question when the old men reassembled in their new suite. Would bony Boom, everyone’s best buddy, remember the cookies-and-cream colossus with whom he’d bantered on and off for ten years? Would cheer-child Steven, the weatherproof rainbow cat, pick up where old sunbeams left off? Could Elijah find room in that exponential heart for a few old numbers?

Do good neighbors ever stop looking out for each other?

Lithe little Boom burst forth like the day. “Steven! My Spielberg! Have you seen the window seats? Have you seen me lately? Am I not seventy-seven thousand times handsomer old than I ever was young?”

Empathy expert Steven chose wonder. “You are alive! Both of you! We are all alive together, after all these years and all these dashed hopes of ham salad. It is a miracle. We are a miracle. I love you. I love you. I love you!”

Ancient Elijah, prophet and poet and pachyderm-sized philosopher, just smiled.

Their friendship was as “forever” as ever.

Their old bonds have a lovely patina in the new world.

They loved each other once; they loved each other again; they love each other forever.

Who can say what lies ahead for the FIV+ carbs or the sunshine boys? The future isn’t ours to design.

That’s fortunate, as it leaves us to our true task: building bonds that go the distance.

Also sending meatballs. Is emergency.

1 thought on “Still and ever

  1. This warty gourd loves the stories of daily doings at Tabby’s Place. Never a dull moment with cats around. If you’re not petting them and feeding them, you’re moving them and medicating and taking pictures. And making memories and friends.

Leave a Reply