I test the air for presence. All I feel is absence.
It is very quiet. It's often very quiet here in the morning when I am working. He silently suns himself in the living room, curled into a soft warm ball, bright light sparkling with iridescence on his black patches, his white aglow. When I touch him, he makes a small sound, annoyance or acknowledgement, his black fur hot, the white cool.
This morning, I slept beyond the son's morning ablutions, so exhausted and finally in deep sleep, and the spouse brought me coffee as a reminder that it was nearing the time I needed to take the boy to his bus stop. Usually, there is a small parade into the room, the cat first, sauntering in with the air of a drum major, then coffee and frequently, children bringing up the rear. For reasons I don't understand, the cat must walk to the far side of the bed, and jump on it from there, whereupon he processes across to present himself to me for appropriate accolades and worship. He purrs violently, walking back and forth, the down comforter crunching under his tiny feet. He is actually a very small cat, but he looms enormous.
Although I know that he is not here, I check for him, in his favorite sun spots, and I think I hear his activities throughout the day. I am alert to these things, part of my daily routine, and they are deafening in their absence.
And my daily routine is routine no longer. I am stir-crazy, and in frustration, I have resumed a large chunk of my regular fitness routines, weights and exercise bike and stretching, whatever I can still do.
I test my skin for absence. Drawing the fabric of my workout clothes across my leg makes me shudder. The lack of sensation is grotesque. On the exercise bike, I roughly thrust my heel outward against the inward pull it has adopted, ruthlessly jam my foot into a straightened position in the stirrup. Then I pedal, ignoring how hard the right leg has to work to keep up with the left.
For about four days, I was pleased that I had the time to catch up on movies I've missed seeing. Now, I flip through the channels and PPV in a desultory fashion, bored before I've started. Finally, I settle on Before Sunrise, which turns out to be a charming little film about strangers on a train who spend a night together wandering through Vienna. I listen to the song they listen to at the record store, and I think about the word "touch." It is not impossible to touch me, though parts of me are presently dead to the touch. It is not impossible to touch my heart, though at the moment it's retreated to a more impenetrable position.
I watch the film, and much of what happens rings true, some of it with a wistful nostalgia for times and places gone by. I remember the earnestness of being 20-something and wanting desperately to treat relationships in a mature way, so much so that the characters' earnestness almost makes me laugh. I still pretend to maturity; sometimes, I still don't want the sun to rise. I am reluctant to say good-bye, to allow presence to become absence.
I am not impossible to touch.
Go listen to some music: "Come Here" sung by Kate Bloom from the album Before Sunset and Before Sunrise (Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack). I have to admit that I found the song rather awful even if I did like some of the lyrics.