If you want to lift your mood, let a cat out of a closet.
I live in an old house, where one scary door downstairs opens into a dirt build up. A wall of decomposed granite greets you when you step inside. It is the house’s bowels, where a tangle of pipes and wires carries the sewage down, and the hot water up, and where for lack of a better spot, our washer and dryer live. So I am in that dank, sneezy build up all the time. The dirt is so insidious that I am forever rewashing wet socks when they drop on the dusty concrete pad on their way to the dryer.
That eerie cavern is also irresistible to my cat, Zoro. He sneaks in behind me while my head is in the mouth of the washer, and he runs up the mound of dirt into the darkness, sending a shower of pebbles behind him. I often look up from my chore and see his eyes glowing out from the back of the build up. But at times, if I am wrestling an armful of wet clothes, I don’t notice when he bolts in. I set the timer on the dryer and close the door behind me, not to return maybe until the next morning when I am rushing to find clean underwear for a kid.
During the time my cat is locked in a dark closet in the downstairs in a pitch black prison, I might be dealing with a dozen or two things: A looming work deadline, my toddler whining against my leg while I try to finish a phone call, a toppling tower of unwashed dishes, a missing ingredient for every possible dinner recipe, life insurance paperwork I’ve yet to complete, a friend whose brother has cancer, my eight year-old’s fear that she won’t go to heaven…
Eventually I get back to the laundry, and when I open that door, my whiskered friend is standing there tail up, ready to dart into the light. He thanks me with a guttural meow and struts out into civilization again, his coat covered in a brown haze, looking like a coal miner. After a quick rub against my pant leg, he trots off toward his dish, and I presently hear him crunching away on fish flavored kibble—purring.
Locked in a setting for a Steven King novel for hours on end, he comes out purring.
And his gratitude to me for once again being his rescuer adds a comical and satisfying flavor to my day.
Regardless of the time and events that pass before I turn that knob to release him, he is at that moment, happy. No grudges, no lingering complaints about the past: my cat lives in a perpetual state of the present. And he seems to be telling me something about enjoying where I am, no matter where I am.
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