Monday, October 20, 2003

Little Digger

"I go out with a friend/Maybe a little music might help/But I can't pretend/I wish I was somewhere else/I wanna watch the ocean end/The edges of the sun then/I wanna get swallowed up in an ocean of love"
-Lucinda Williams

"What does it mean when something changes how it's always been?"
-Liz Phair

Dear Thompson,

I think I get it now. I think I understand why anything out of the routine startles you, how things new to you cause you apprehension; and how some things you don't understand simply frighten you. For example, I understand now why when I turned on the furnace for the first time the other week you couldn't handle it. You couldn't handle the strange noise, the blowing air, the new smells, the heat, and just somehow how the air around us was forever different.

I really wonder what you were like before that fateful day and the accident where you got your paw caught in some type of trap and ended up losing your entire leg. There are times you can be the sweetest little cat, so energetic, so well behaved, and even once in awhile a little cuddly. What convinced me to adopt you and your pal Diego-san was the way the two of you played together so well. I loved how when I visited the two of you in your foster home how you clearly looked at Diego to make sure things, that I, was okay. Once you saw Diego check me out then you were right behind albeit a tad apprehensive.

But Thompson we're going to have to continue to work on trusting each other. I know you have your ghosts and demons and I know that there will forever be issues related to your handicap. Believe me if there is something we truly do share (and ultimately can understand about each other) is that I too have more than few obvious ghosts and demons. I don't think it is an accident that we somehow managed to find each other.

I remember the first night we were together I rolled you a ball that your foster mom had given me as your favorite toy. Unfortunately I rolled it to the side of your missing leg and as you leaned down to grab it with your mouth you toppled over. A friend warned me that in adopting you I had to prepare myself for some psychological issues that might exist and while I listened to her (as I am always inclined to do), I don't think I truly was realistic in how I forever have to try to remember that you do, and probably always will have some trust and fear issues. There are times I just wish it was all easier for you.

As you know it has not been a easily understood few weeks for me Thompson. Going to the funeral services of my uncle and my neighbor and hearing a lost friend's death was ruled a suicide has truly been hard. She after all was in a way the one that talked me into adopting you in the first place. I remember how she told me of her love of her kitties, Jazzy and Pumpkin, and how they related to her and each other that when I met you that I knew what I would someday soon do. I wish I could tell her that.

Thus I appreciate how you and Diego-san continue to entertain me with your youthful curiosity, how everything still seems so new with you guys. I think more than anything watching you two has kept me from falling completely into the all too familiar abyss. Yet with you I have to keep remembering that the trust you have in me comes along with a unhurried learning process. I felt bad the other night when the Cubs fell apart and my chosen team this playoff season (the Florida Marlin{s}) came back from what appeared to be certain elimination to move on to the World Series and as they went ahead I let out a loud whoop with a clap and you fled in fear from seeing this new side of me. One step forward, two steps back (perhaps your distrust of me was deserved since I was rooting against the team my Mom rooted for when she was growing up despite having brothers who were Cardinal fans. Mom had her rebel side after all.)

So here is a lesson I will pass on to you Thompson. Having a broken heart doesn't always involve losing some type of love. Having a broken heart can also mean not being able to feel much at all except a feeling of isolation and a lack of connection with anything or anyone around. I was reminded of this lesson (which I learned a long long time ago) while attending Lucinda Williams' Saturday concert at First Avenue. As you know I prepared myself in seeing one of my pantheon of favorite performers and favorite writers the night before by listening to the sixth greatest song of all time, Williams' "Am I Too Blue?" I'm sure I drove you and Diego nuts by hitting the repeat button on my CD player but the song is great like a little lullaby and it probably is the one I'll sing to my first child someday somewhere. "Am I too blue for you? Am I too blue?/When I cry like the sky like the sky sometimes/Am I too blue?" Maybe my preparation was a bit too good because as I watched Lucinda I only grew bluer and bluer.

She opened with her pop hit (for Mary Chapin Carpenter), a terrific version of "Passionate Kisses." The show featured a lot of songs from her last CD World Without Tears the first being a slow and reflective "Ventura." The song is a tearjerker and indeed there was a jerk in the audience who spent most of the rest of the show inexplicably (and inscrutably? And I don't mean that as an insult) crying. I think I was thinking about how the night before as I was messing up meeting up with the blue eyed editor how I stopped into the local neighborhood Cheapo to try and make a phone call and CONNECT and I ran into Ms. Rose, a big Mr. Max fan, who showed me the picture of Max prominently displayed at the register. I was deeply moved if not a bit sad. I miss Max more than ever as I'm sure you know.

And as I got home that night I particpated in an online conversation with the newest member of the feline sympathizers, Ms. Lisa Anne Marie and that modern day typed conversation was well timed I must say. A connection if not just the most modern type. I must one day meet Lisa's kitty Sidda because she is the cute kitty who chases the cursor from a computerized mouse.

The two highlights of the Lucinda show for me were "Joy" which gathered steam like a runaway train, puncturing any defense that might stand in the way, and "Sweet Side" which is such a bitter tribute to a dysfunctional relationship that it reminds me of a thing or two about the one whose diamond earring I was proudly wearing at the show. Get Puzzy indeed.

During the show I drifted back to fifteen years ago this month when I worked a midnight shift at Cheapo and I had taped the first game of the World Series between the A's and the Dodgers. Not much meant much then so when I came home and numbly fast forwarded my way through the game to try and see as much as I could to taste the flavor of what was going on while at the same time trying to expedite things to get to bed ASAP, I just assumed that the heavily favored A's had won since they dominated most of the game. But that's when I was reminded why baseball remains the one truly great game, as the gimpy Kirk Gibson pinch hit in the end of the ninth against the A's unbelievable closer Dennis Eckersley, and somehow lived up to the Roy Hobbs myth and jacked one out of the park to win the game (and ultimately the Series for the Dodgers). I remember being stunned and happy and wanting to call everyone and someone at the same time. So coming home this night to a taped Marlin(s)/Yankees game was made all the more comforting after a stressful heartbreaking night out greeted by the familiar gait and grunt of your handsomely spotted face.

I'm quite sure none of the people in First Ave shared my now lifelong devotion to the Marlin(s) least of all the people I was with but Lucinda was great. Her voice crackled effectively; she interacted with her band in a mesmerizing way and man she looked great in that black Stephaniesque t-shirt. I bolted in a fashion reminiscent of you when you are unsure of things, when the show was over. I had to get back to the place that is all about trust.

So in the end I must say, I love you Thompson. And I'm trying to make the feeling familiar if not somewhat mutual.

Yours truly,

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