Saturday, September 14, 2013

Cats in cages

"But life has lost its mystery, love is blind and it cannot find me."

This is Nick.

Nick is one of the cats I've gotten to know at Sugar Land Animal Services, where I started volunteering last month.

He never wants to come out of his cage, but when you take him out he's ever so gentle and loves to be held.

Here are Dominic, Noah and Lollipop. Dominic is a playful kitten, Noah is a grown cat who gets along with all the other cats. Lollipop is a young girl and a bit skittish.

Now meet Harley, a friendly fluffy marmalade boy, Lilly, who likes all the other cats and loves to look out windows, and Kelsey, who would sit on my lap the whole time I'm there, if I let her.

Jack, Kit Kat and Lola are next. Jack lost an eye but he's a gentle, happy guy. Kit Kat is a beautiful sweet tortoiseshell. Lola. Well Lola is scared to death and has some issues. She's beautiful and I'm working with her and making progress. I tell her, she needs a better attitude or she'll never find a new family.

Lastly, for now, this is Elmer. He's my favorite. He's a high-energy, rambunctious, inquisitive kitten. The minute I come into the room, he's jumping out of his skin to come out and play. He doesn't stay still long enough to get a good picture. He's really very cute, has normal kitten proportions, and doesn't have giant legs and a pin head.

Elmer is growing up in a cage, which makes me sad. He needs to be adopted and have a home to grow up in. I keep thinking and hoping someone will take him, because he really is just so cute, even though the day I come in and he's been adopted, I'll be a little bit sad too.

This volunteer gig is much harder than the SPCA because there is much less turnover, especially of the older cats, and even the youngsters like Dominic and Lollipop and Elmer aren't being snapped up. People pick six-week-old kittens to adopt. I understand that, I really do, no one said life is fair.

It's just that I'm getting attached to this gang. I feel invested in their well-being. I worry because some of the cats are sneezing. Often the sneezing cats are gone by my next visit, and new cats have moved into their spots. Maybe they are in another building being treated, but so far most are not seen again. I could ask what happened to them, but I suspect, in this case, knowing would be worse than not knowing.

We have two cats. Two cats is the right number for us. I can't even bring Elmer, or any of the shelter cats, home for a few nights. The shelter would allow it, but I can't risk exposing our cat boys to germs. Respiratory infections run rampant in shelters and symptom-less cats can be carriers.

2001. Late July. After Marty received the package of his love letters and cards from the remote Mary, and asked me for space, to maintain a measure of sanity and to stem my rising panic, I turned to writing. I wasn't blogging then, but I was posting on a message board.
I feel kicked in the heart. Objectively I know it may not be the end, and taking a few days of space doesn't have to mean he won't choose to be with me in the end.

This decision is not a simple one. Even if they decide they still want to be together, he is here and she is there and unless something has changed greatly, they are not going to be near each other any more than when they decided to part in March.

Some people wonder why I would even want him to come back after he did this, loving me passionately for weeks and then pushing me away overnight. But I love him and, for me, that means I can forgive him and let him come back and love him forever if he does.
After we talked on Sunday, I didn't hear anything for 48 hours from the man who had called me and written to me of his love, many times every day, for months.

I continued to post about it.
The hardest thing for me to do is give someone space, because that requires doing nothing.

I am one who processes by talking, talking, talking.

What I want to do is scream for instant gratification/reassurance/anything.
Marty's first contact was an e-mail, a very strange one, casual, chatty, as if we were barely more than acquaintances. Almost as an afterthought, he said this.
Well, I talked with Mary last night. Long, sometimes tearful conversation on both sides.... more about that in person or on the phone soon, okay?
He did address the note, Dear Lizzie, and signed it, Love Martin. I chose to take that as a good sign.

You might have thought I was clutching at straws. You would have been dead right.

I wrote back.
I am glad that you called Mary. One way or another, all this heartache and emotional limbo needs to be resolved and that was the first step.
On the message board I posted.
If I wasn't a person with depression, I might be serene in my faith that we are right together and that he will come back to me in the end. A time to deliberate should not rock the very foundation of my existence - as it has.

I do not blame Marty 100 percent for the pain by any means. His silence triggered all my own personal crap - feelings of insecurity and unworthiness.

A healthy, whole person might have said, to hell with you, how dare you do this to me, I deserve better, please get out of my life. And the person would have been fully justified.

I told him that I was unwilling to be a placeholder or a consolation prize, that when he decided, whatever he decided, he needs to be clear and committed to honor his own decision.

I meant it - just as I meant every other word I ever said to this man. Maybe I am really strong, beneath the damage and the scars.
We met. We talked. He said he was torn. Torn. That was the word he used.

I asked him, did you tell her about me? He said, yes. I was glad because if he had said, no, I'd have seen him as being dishonest with her and that would have made me see him as a different person than I had seen him as.

We decided to continue to see each other, not to resume where we left off (last week, when we were in love) but, to use his words, to have fun, very carefully, which is what we should probably have done in the first place.

A lot of people counseled me not to see him until he made a decision. I wasn't that strong. I thought it would ease me to see him sometimes. And there was always the hope that when he was with me it would be harder to deny the joint need and attraction and desire.

I posted some more.
What we had was very, very good, and even though all we had was weeks - not a lot, compared to a years-long relationship - we also had the promise of something more substantial to come. I felt it. I believe he felt it.
We went out on Saturday. The unspoken rule was, let's have fun, another first date.
Not that I plan on any intimacy. I think his own honor would not let him permit himself to go down that road without knowing it was an irretractable commitment. But we had something a lot deeper than mere lust happening between us.
We went to see The Pirates of Penzance. Gilbert and Sullivan also have a comic opera called Patience. Marty bought me a mug with the logo on it. He bought himself one too. How far was I stretching to see that as a good sign?

The evening was bittersweet. I kept a smile glued on my face. He held my hand at dinner, and walking around, and in the car on the way home. When he left, he said, I had a great time. I said, I did too. He said, I'll call you.

He didn't kiss me.

More days passed.

I strove to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.
I definitely feel he is controlling me with this silence and distance. But I have no choice. I have to wait. That means go on living my life and give him space and time to work on his own issues. And it is the only way - whether he chooses me or not - you can't make a heart love.

I am building a stern resolve to start acting like a grown up again. I am taking back some control. Giving him time and space - not contacting him - is an act of love and sacrifice.

Each time I manage to not call him, he has contacted me. Each time I have contacted him, it has left me feeling emptier because I am not getting what I am looking for (which would be, Liz, I've been a fool, I miss you and want you madly.)

I can see some positives here even. For one, it would trivialize all our feelings of love if Marty pushed me away to make a serious life-changing choice and did it without taking sufficient time to be clear and certain.
I sound so reasonable and mature, don't I?

Then I got this humdinger from Marty.
More talk with Mary.... We miss each other and we’re still in love, I think.... but we still don’t know what we can do about it.... It’s a hell of a long commute for a Saturday night date. I’m sorry, Lizzy... Talking with her feels better than not talking with her did in some ways, but it only replaces grief with a familiar anxiety.
I only saw those four words. We're still in love.

I didn't handle it well. I questioned, accused, bargained. I cried and he cried.

So much for reason and maturity, huh?

I asked him about the letter he'd once written to me about Mary, the one about the story of Ruth. The one where he said (among other things) this.
Even after a years-long relationship, I was a non-entity to her children, her parents, sisters, most of her workmates. To be a dirty little secret in her life after so much time together was very painful and frustrating.
He said, I was angry at her.

He said, I'm a good writer.

He said I can't see you now. because when I talk to her I feel like I am cheating on you, and when I see you I feel like I am cheating on her.

He said, you're a very needy woman.

And I said, you're a very needy man.

If only I had left it there. But I didn't. The next day, in pain and confusion, I did something that violated privacy and boundaries, something that expunged any glimmer of a chance that things would come out right.

Because I still wanted this man to choose me.
How do I truly release that hope today? I guess my heart will know when it is time.

"I've been romanced dined and danced
Crazy nights and wild times
But my life has lost its mystery
Love is blind and it cannot find me

I'm blowing away
Shadows take my love and leave
I'm blowing away
Shadows keep taking my love and leaving me

And I have cast aside my foolish pride
And I'm going down for the last time
And I have searched this earth
And I've sailed these seas
Love is blind and it cannot find me

I'm blowing away
Shadows take my love and leave
I'm blowing away
Shadows keep taking my love and leaving me
You keep taking my love and leaving me."

(Eric Kaz)

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz