Monday, July 27, 2009

Common Ground

I was struggling to open the door with one hand when he appeared out of the darkness. It was late as usual. I had keys in one hand and a laundry basket full of clean, neatly folded clothes that I sure as hell wasn't going to set down on the dirty floor or steps. As soon as I got the keys in the keyhole, I braced the laundry basket between one thigh and the doorway and used my other hand to turn the door knob to open the door.

He didn't follow me in as I dropped the laundry basket on the sofa. He never came inside, even with the door left wide open. Rather, he stood out on the porch in the darkness, greeting me just once and waiting for my acknowledgment. I hadn't seen him in a while, but that was normal, as it happens quite frequently.

Some days, it's as if he'd never leave, always entertaining a crowd, the life of the party. He can be quite loud, but charming if the size of the group that surrounded him was any indication. Late at night, I'd hear him and his friends making a lot of noise, sometimes singing, a few times fighting. He's a popular one, that's for sure. I'd often find him perched comfortably on the hood of my car, as if it were his own. It irritated me sometimes, watching him sitting on my car, without a care in the world, like I had bought that car just for him. Sometimes, his company would join him. But they always moved away from my car when I needed to use it. They'd hop off, he'd give me a quick glance and off they went to hang out somewhere else.

Then there were days when he'd be gone for a while, often disappearing for long stretches. It'd be silent then, without his familiar voice or the sight of him chilling in the shade if he happened to be alone. I'd enjoy the peace and quiet for a few days, but then I'd wonder where he could be, what he was doing. Where he goes, I don't know. I never ask. At times, I'd think he was gone for good. And just when I've forgotten about him, he appears out of nowhere, just like tonight.

We weren't really friends but we weren't exactly strangers either. We shared a sense of familiarity with each other. It comes from sharing a living space. And while I didn't actually encourage him to stay around, I didn't exactly object to his presence either. Sure he was annoying sometimes, but I just accepted him for who he was, just as nature intended. I'd laugh at his antics. I'd see him frolicking with his friends. I'd catch him making out with the ladies--a few times with the fellas. I suspect he's actually fathered a few young ones I'd seen around here. The authorities have come looking for him a few times. They've asked for help once to catch him, but he's a clever one, always managing to escape. I'd hate to think of what they'd do to him if they took him into custody. He needs to be free, to roam about.

There's a sense of independence and adventure in him that I recognize. And as much as I complain about his presence sometimes, the truth is, I see a lot myself in him--that zest for life, that restless spirit, that love for long naps on lazy days or taking chances, excited to explore new things and having fun. He's a little selfish and lazy sometimes, and maybe that's what irks me about him, because he reminds me that I'm a little selfish and lazy, too. And while I didn't seek out his friendship, I didn't wish him any harm either. I wasn't looking for any new friends, and I doubt he was looking for new ones either. But that didn't mean I couldn't be kind to him. Kindness is what makes us human.

So I fixed him a bowl of food and some water. I offered it to him, and he ate it, grateful for a simple meal. I wasn't sure how long he'd be around. Not that I'd ask him. We didn't really talk all that much. But we had an understanding. We sat on the front porch, lost in our thoughts, content in each other's company for now. He may stay the night and be around for a while. Or he just might take off again. It's all a mystery. But that's okay. I wouldn't want it any other way.

He is a cat after all.


  1. the best sort of neighbor, sugar! another well crafted story, sir. thank you!

  2. Good one. Plus there's the possibility of a sequel!

  3. Do you think he hops on the plane and comes to England?!
    I love the way cats enjoy simple pleasures. I sit on the garden bench with my stray and have a great sense of camaraderie. Peaceful.

  4. Cats are experts at hanging out... they are the kings of chillin'.

    So? Where's a picture of your new friend?

  5. My friends have a daily stray visitor.

    They've gone so far as to keep food and water bowls both outdoors AND inside for him when he pops in.

    AND when he drops by he has a nap on their sofa before taking off again!

  6. Savannah, Thanks. It's always nice to have a good neighbor, because it makes the neighborhood a nice place to live.

    XL, This cat was here when I moved in years ago; I'm pretty sure he'll still be around long after I'm gone. But in the meantime, I have the pleasure of his company every now and then when I sit on the porch.

    Scarlet B, Ha! That was my exact thought when I saw the picture of your semi stray cat! This one looks just like him! It may be him when he disappears from here for a week or two.

    You're right. I love that sense of peace and serenity that comes from just hanging out with a cat.

    Ponita, I luv that cats seem to enjoy hanging out. They're pretty good at reading people and being good company.

    Scarlet has a fantastic post about her cat friend, and the pic she took looks just like the cat I'm talking about! He's a tiger striped cat.

    MJ, This cat has never come inside my place. I suspect it's from experience, that maybe someone tried to catch him or he just doesn't like being indoors. But he likes to hang around my porch, and when he's around, I bring him some food and water and sit with him for a while. He looks pretty healthy, so I'm guessing others are feeding him, too.

  7. Up until the last line , I thought Mr C had buggered off to the states. :-)))
    Then you went and spoiled it :-(

  8. Wonderful - I can see him now...

  9. Beast, You mean the C in Mr C doesn't stand for cat? I doubt this cat owns a restaurant or throws a Gordon Ramsey hissy fit in the kitchen. I mean, can cats even own restaurants? What would the health dept say?

    Scarlet B, I had chills when I read your post and saw the pic of your cat! I was like, hey, that's the dude that hangs out on my front porch!

    Mutley, Thanks. It's funny how animals have this noticeable presence in our lives, whether we ask for it or not, they're there to remind us to take time to enjoy life.

  10. Very well written.
    We had a cat for years who just decided one day to up and go. I saw him on a porch of a house many roads over and when I called his name,so pleased I'd found him,he looked at me and pretended he didn't know me! The woman came out, eyed me like I was trying to lure away HER cat and ,calling Sam some other name, opened the front door and in he sauntered-master of the house.

    I ran home to tell my mum who said,' F*ck him. If he wants to live there, he can!' and we never saw him again.

    Cats are ungrateful buggers.

  11. Ubermouth, Welcome!

    That is one messed up cat! It's a good thing that two timing cat didn't return to your house--cheatin' bastard!

    This one here comes and goes as he pleases. I haven't seen a collar on him, so I'm guessing he's a stray. I like that him and his friends have reduced the number of birds who like to sit in the tree and poop on my car.

  12. I had a feeling you were talking about a cat, and the fact that he and his friends sometimes sit on your car - well that gave it away. ;)

    That's a nice companionship you have there! He's a lucky cat to be your neighbor.

  13. Tara, I've learned to not mind him and his friends sitting on my car so much. I prefer cat prints to bird poop on the car.

    And I appreciate the cats efforts to eliminate the pests who like to hang around the porch.

  14. I am not really a cat person , I much prefer dogs , I guess I am a pack animal at heart

  15. Beast, I like both cats and dogs. I'd say I'm an animal person, but I don't like all animals--I'm not a big fan of the ones that can eat me...or poison me.