Is it just me, or has this whole pandemic made you feel like a Jane Austen character?
Instead of starting emails with “As per our earlier conversation…” or “Whatsup dog?,” I’m greeting friends and donors and assorted associates with, “How fare ye and thy kindred during this time of pestilence? Verily I hope thy parents and brethren are well.”
It’s strange. It’s a constant, still-necessary acknowledgment that we’re living in perilous times, surrounded by fresh fragility. It seems wrong not to at least nod in its direction.
Frankly, it’s kind of nice.
Can you imagine, once this is all over (if you can imagine All This being over), all of us still asking gentle, generous questions?
Maybe, instead of leaping into the task at hand, we’ll ask about each other’s mamas and papas and brothers and sisters and kinfolk of all kinds.
Maybe, instead of getting down to business, we’ll look up to the higher planes of our personhood: How are you really? How is your health, and your home, and your heart?
How are These Times treating you?
Because even when the pestilence has passed — soon may it pass! — we will still be living through times that tumble us like rocks. Such are all times; such are we, tough but tiny stones prone to being smoothed by the shaking, like it or not.
Whether or not we keep on with the kinder, quieter questions, the cats always will. Think about it: have you ever sat down to cuddle a cat and not been welcomed with a grand, somewhat complex greeting? It’s never a jolting jump to snuggle-business; there’s all sorts of sniffing and settling in and settling out and settling back in.
The older the cat — look here to Walter and Bobby of the Lobby and Anita et all — the more elaborate the introduction. Before they blitz you with snugglage, they’ll turn circles in your lap, muffining and meandering and making much of your knees and hands and T-shirt (which has surely not been adequately furred). Denni, in particular, is exquisite at making the perfect nest of you before she’ll tackle the task of nuzzling. Angelo will acknowledge you with proper pageantry before indulging himself in your affection. The introductory proceedings are as essential as the main-event love.
Old cats have retained the charm of times gone by, minus the pride or prejudice.
They will take the time to give you their time.
They will greet you properly, grandly, with generosity of spirit.
There’s no hurry.
They will ask you all the questions.
How are you, really?
What led you to me, today?
How can I best love you, listen to you, lap up your goodness?
How do you and your kindred fare in these funky times?
So today, I ask you, kittens: do you and your dear ones fare well?
If we’re honest, we’re all “faring weird” right now. But that’s OK. Let’s tell each other, and really listen.
Hand in paw in trembling hand, we will — surely — keep faring forward, into a future none of us can quite see.
Fare thee wonderful, dear hearts.