I don’t really know where to begin. In the past month, I’ve driven back and forth to Santa Fe more times than I can count. When the semester started, and I knew I’d be working at Amy Biehl Community School two to four times a week, I thought, I’ll use the time well. I did my best. I called my mom. I called my friend Lisa who lives on the East Coast, and even if she didn’t, would still be receptive to my calling at six-thirty Mountain. I caught up on National Public Radio. If I knew I wouldn’t have time later that day to write, I’d talk story ideas into a recorder for thirteen minutes. I thought I would make time to have lunch or coffee with friends in Santa Fe. But then I remembered that this was not the only job I was doing, and I have kids who get out of school at two-forty in the afternoon, and if I hope to do any writing at all, I better go home immediately after class. Sorry friends.
I don’t like being in my car so much. By the end of the week my butt is the shape of my bucket seat and my spine is about as tall as a matchstick.
The week after the project ended, I made my way back to yoga, and much to my surprise, I didn’t snap in half. Perhaps those weeks of jogging and swimming and my erratic morning sun salutations were working after all.
Kitty Kitty Cat
He showed up in the backyard about a month ago. He was scrawny, his orange fur matted and dusty. He followed me around the yard as I worked on the garden. Each time I reached for the water hose or hand rake to aerate the dill and tomatoes, he followed, nose first, as though he might discover a wad of catnip in my palm. Henry shredded some leftover chicken into a plastic bowl and set it on the porch. He devoured it and was soon crying for more. We refilled the bowl with chopped turkey slices, then bacon crumbles, then diluted half & half. (We were out of milk.) He rubbed against our legs and tried to follow us into the house. I knew he needed cariño as much as he needed calories, but I was afraid to touch him. Fleas, ticks, feline leukemia, mange, ebola…who knew? He slept on the porch that night and was still there in the morning. Henry bought him a bag of kitten food. He hung out in the yard, drank water, napped, ate, lingered near us but not too close until that night when he tried to bed down in the office closet. He slept on the porch again.
The next day P. and her little friend from across the street gave her a bath. When P. wants something she will surmount any obstacle to get it, even if it means dunking a strange and hungry kitty in a tub full of water and holding him still while instructing her six-year-old friend to shampoo the knots out the kitty’s belly fur.
P. was the first to cuddle the kitty.
She made a bed for him in the office. Henry bought a litter box and a bigger bag of kitten food. We discussed names. P. wanted Hobo. K. wanted Garfield. I thought about Herbie or Cubby or Scout.
Turns out Hobo/Garfield/Herbie/Cubby/Scout is a girl. And she doesn’t have feline leukemia (or mange or ebola).
Henry, the kids, and I each put a name into a hat. P. drew Sasha. K. drew Andréa. We said, “Sasha Andréa,” looked at the kitty, said it again. It didn’t work. We scrapped those names and tried again. K. drew Kitty. P. drew Kitty. Henry and I drew Cat. That’s her name. Kitty Kitty Cat.
I think I love her.
Endings and Beginnings
Anna Marissa Otero and Sara Luz Otero graduated from their respective high schools on Saturday. I’m a proud Auntie.