I want you to yawn into this new day with tingling expectation.
I want you to be confident that today is both the first and the best day of your life.
I want you to be a Community Cat.
Not to be confused with those other community cats, Community Cats properly noun-ed are those Tabby’s Place cats who live in “people places.” (HA HA HA I MADE A FUNNY! “PEOPLE PLACES” AT TABBY’S PLACE!)
There was a time before time when the Lobby was pristine and catless, when the offices were not squished sardine-style with cat beds, when the Lounge was a hygienic place in which to consume one’s lunch.
Those times are, fortunately, over.
Circa 2004, the cats burst the bounds of their “proper” cat suites, and it’s been pandemonium ever since. (OK, it was pandemonium from the moment Tabby’s Place was first a twinkle in Jonathan’s eye. But, like the universe and the national debt and cats themselves, pandemonium has the tendency to expand.)
Ergo the classification “Community Cats.” These blessedest of beasts live extra-special, extra-strange, extra-suitular lives beyond our cat suites, out in the People Places.
As previously discussed, these eminent individuals are generally cats who are extra-Tabbular. They epitomize the “Tabby’s Place cat” in one way or another (or, often, twelve hundred ways at once): they have Special Needs requiring vigilant monitoring/doting/lavishing with excessive fish mush. (Let the record show that Cotton would like the word “excessive” stricken from the record.) They have peculiar personalities that are less than pleased with cats and/or humans and/or the existential abyss which one faces in the depths of night. (Let the record show that Bellamy made me type that.)
They have needs, and, being cats, they are unafraid to need loudly.
They are unafraid to make sure we are never unaware of their needs.
And, needs met and world smashed open like a geode, they are unable to cease to be astonished.
Sophia, half shag carpet, half conquering valkyrie, is astonished at the bigness of her life, longer and richer and stranger and sweeter than it ever should have been. She came from the streets; she has lived gaping years with a ghastly form of cancer; she has yet to face a day at Tabby’s Place without a bed the size of an aircraft carrier magically manifesting itself for her regal nappitude in the Lobby. She is loved with almost hysterical fervor by her manservants and maidservants and numberless admirers who have never even met her in person.
She may seem to sleep through her days, but make no mistake: she is fully awake, fully alive, fully enamored of all this unlikely goodness that greets her at every turn.
It’s enough to make a “sickly” cat forget the sadness, except that cats forget nothing. Sophia has been on borrowed time since sometime shortly after “time immemorial,” and her occasional flirtations with major medical crisis deny us the luxury of forgetting it. Even as I type this post, weeks ahead of its publication date, a small (OK, not even remotely small) part of me worries that she could choose to cross the veil between my typing and your reading.
Will I need to write her a eulogy sooner than I’d like (which is to say, ever)?
Will this post have to be reworked into an obituary?
Sophia has no time for such questions. She’s too busy trying to turn me — even me — into a Community Cat. Those sleepy, moony eyes, framed by endless shag and marinated in endless wisdom, beckon me: don’t save the eulogy for the eulogy. Sing my glory-songs — and your friends’, and your heroes’, and even ridiculous Stanley‘s — while the living is still in progress. Why wait? Why hold back the adulation? Why restrict one pebble of praise to the funeral?
Are we afraid that the living can’t handle our affection? Are we worried that they will get big heads from our big love? (Let the record show that Sophia already and unrepentantly possesses an enormous head, in both the literal and metaphorical senses.) Are we scared that, if we let all the love out of the barn, there will be none left when it’s needed?
Don’t be ridiculous. Be a Community Cat.
Be, that is to say, on the tireless lookout for The Good: in others, in yourself, in the endless smorgasbord that is this imperfect, exquisite, continual gift of a life. Speak all the love in your heart. Squeal aloud at every speckle of splendor. Don’t wait. Today is the best and first and dearest day.
Don’t believe Sophia and me? I will give you one further Community witness.
If Sophia’s wisdom comes to us dreamlike, Grecca’s splashes your face like a 55-gallon drum of espresso, cut with Red Bull and enriched uranium. The tiniest titanium tabby with the trombone scream will follow you, frantic-squirrel-meets-Peloton-instructor, barking commands that are really more like poems.
“THE WORLD IS GLORIOUS!”
“YOU ARE GLORIOUS!”
“LOOK THE STATIONERY CLOSET IS OPEN AND I CAN SIT ON TOP OF THE ENVELOPES OH DEAR MERCY I AM A RICH WOMAN!”
“LIFE ACTUALLY EXISTS!”
You’d be hard pressed to say that this is not, in fact, the first day of Grecca’s life on this planet. It isn’t, not literally; she’s just an astrophysicist when it comes to pressing down every inch of every moment to squeeze out the juices. And, like Sophia, she’s not afraid to dump them over your head after a winning game.
For a Community Cat, every hour is a game.
For a Community Cat, every game is a victory.
For a fragile human, “Community Cat” just might be the ultimate soul-goal.