04 April 2009

The speed of love

Milton came into my life a small, thin and terrified half-kitten in August 2001. He is still terrified--birds, strangers, loud noises, the doorbell, all are ready to pounce on him with their many horrors--and he only truly relaxes when he knows where I am. If I sit down, he stretches out luxuriously in my lap and falls into deep, dream-filled sleep. He lets me stroke his soft belly and I can play him like an accordion while he howls for his dinner (this is a nightly event because, you know, he's never been fed in his entire life. Ever. Which is why he needs to steal Brussels sprouts or tomato from people's plates. Have I ever mentioned the sinfully expensive prescription cat food I've been feeding him for seven years because he has damaged kidneys?).

Every night, he holds vigil outside my bedroom door.

Well, I am his catnip dealer.

Milton is a guy, so too much kissing, fondling, petting is out of the question. I can count the number of times he's kissed me (seven), a quick little sandpaper tongue, always on the inside of my wrist. My late sweet Doodle would have happily spent hours washing me, and was known to try to pin my wayward head down with a chiding paw, a bit of claw if I insisted on trying to escape. I was just an oversized kitten in her view. But Milton is happier to show affection by gnawing on my bare toes at odd moments, or leaping at me from the shadows to try to nip my knee. That's his version of love, along with descending into oblivion in my lap. For him, love is trust. And gnawing. And food.

Love comes at odd moments and in strange, unexpected ways. Perhaps the lesson of this little furball (who at this moment is pacing back and forth, winding his body around my feet under my desk, vocalizing madly for his dinner, occasionally emitting the saddest little sound--because he's never been fed in his entire life, you know) is simply that the possibility of love is right around the corner, arrives the moment you least expect it, in the most unlikely package.

Go listen to some great music: "The Speed of Love" from the album Counterparts by Rush. The inspiration for this post is here, and I do, you know. Whether I've actually said it, not been able to say it, or have not yet had the opportunity to say it, my heart goes out to you.

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