Lately I’ve been thinking of love and its varied manifestations. For instance, feeding Pushi. I carefully measure out a half cup of dry crunchies and mix it with a foil packet of the wet gloppy stuff. Pushi comes in, quickly gobbles it all down, and licks the bowl clean. Her purring as she settles on the seat of the chair under the kitchen table tells me I have done the right thing by her.
Feeding my cat reminds me of Elizabeth, my favorite ex-wife. That moody woman had the annoying habit of piling up excessive amounts of canned food for Buster, her black longhair. In the morning he’d saunter insolently into the kitchen, sniff with disdain, and nibble a bite or two, then amble off, totally disgusted, leaving the wet pile mostly untouched. Then in the evening, Elizabeth would open up another can, and dump it on top of the mound she’d put down that morning.
Several times I suggested that she reduce the amount. This was toward the end of the marriage, the final months. She ignored me because feeding Buster in that wasteful manner was her business, not mine. She made that clear. It didn’t matter that I was the one who had to clean up that stinking mess each day. You know what they say: the one who loves the least has the most power. So this was just one among the many battles I never won.
I suppose I could have fought on doggedly, as the Palestinians do against the Israelis. I might have experienced the peculiar satisfaction of the outnumbered and outgunned. What an Arab writer calls "euphoria in the ruins." But I have no taste for that sort of doomed conflict. I am a Romantic. For me it’s better to preserve an illusion rather than watch it slowly being destroyed. That’s why I so willingly left when she told me to get out.
The other day I had a dream about her. She was in a robe of pale, thin cloth that fell open to reveal her nakedness. She beckoned to me, arms outstretched. She wanted to dance. Because she’d changed her mind. Let’s start over, you and I, she whispered. But I was paralyzed. Fearful. I couldn’t move.
That’s when I woke up. I went to the bathroom to take a leak. At the front door Pushi peeked in through the glass, and meowed. She wanted her breakfast.