An all-white cat shows up on my front porch every morning.
His meow sounds almost exactly like Roxy's, so it always takes me a minute to realize the call is not coming from inside the house, so to speak.
He is gorgeous. Friendly. Mouthy. Unneutered.
I'd seen him before, at some point. I remember sitting on my front porch and having him appear long enough for me to send a picture to Matt (and later, to Instagram it, as really the majority of my feed in the last half of 2014 and the first half of 2015, selfies or no, originated in messages to him. Y'all watched my side of that relationship for a year and you didn't even know it.) to prove my unintentional cat-whispering abilities, and then he disappeared again.
I told myself if he returned, I'd name him Olaf.
And returned he has. His coat slowly grows greyer as it fleshes out for winter, flea dirt more evident at an arm's length. (He only minimally fought me as I applied topical treatment to him while he ate. He flinched when I reached out to him right after, but thought the better of the hand that feeds him and he head-butted my palm after that pause.) His cries for food each morning and some evenings are growing more insistent, less playful and social. He is still quite social himself, after he eats.
I saw him one night, limping, down the sidewalk several blocks from my house. I was a passenger in a car on it's way to a scheduled event, and though the driver sensed my distress we did not stop. I was reassured it appeared minor, nothing broken, and I fought to quell the urge to tuck and roll out of the moving vehicle to tend to the creature.
It was three days until he reappeared. And in that time, I couldn't forgive myself for not stopping, for not being there for him at a weak moment.
He's not even my cat.
But I'm not so sure he's anyone's cat, anymore.
I put out Sylvester's old cathouse back onto it's place on the front porch, though neither he nor the young male long-hair tuxedo with the two white back toes who stops by about weekly enter it. To be fair, I haven't cleaned it out from when it was Sylvester's, as I couldn't bear to wash what was left of him away. So it probably smells like a mix of 18-year-old tomcat, stale markings, and illness-death. I wouldn't want to enter that, either.
There isn't much superstition I could Google on white cats. Black ones obviously are found to be foreboding, though Nubs is probably the closest to my spirit animal out of the whole pride. (I mean, when I came back from Belgium he ran up to me and gently rubbed his face with his paw, where I usually do, as if to ask me to please pet him now. That cat. That cat gives me life daily.)
But I can't shake that he's a sign, somehow. Of what, I'm just not sure.
Everything lately has been a whirlwind of chaos, both good and bad. I started a new job with the same organization, and a month in it appears to already be evolving into something else, perhaps. I went overseas for the first time (for business, no less), to Belgium and France, and fell in love with Paris and Antwerp in ways I didn't know you could love a place you don't speak the language. I laid another college friend to rest, and got too drunk and a couple tattoos to prove it. My divorce has turned ugly, contentious, and I feel left powerless to stop it. I am handling single motherhood with the grace of a wounded water buffalo but at least my damn eyebrows are on point, or so say the interwebs.
I mourn the what ifs, the could have beens, unable to get angry for the first time in my life. I place hands on a stomach that should be rotund and heavy, by now, brimming with yet another unexpected life, but instead comes as close to flat as it ever does, weight melting off as I am prone to do while living in constant fight or flight.
I am haunted by blue eyes, both the ones that held me captive and the ones I am convinced I would have produced, a mirror image of his father's in a face probably bearing more of my resemblance than any other, just like his older siblings. I feel phantom kicks and rolls and I remind myself of all the mindful mantras that mean jack shit when dreams you didn't even know you wanted are snatched from you unceremoniously and you are left with nothing to show but the screenshots of memories of a life you'll never know, now.
Every last thing in my life is changing without much of my own intervention and I don't know what to embrace or what to discard and here comes this white cat, trying to dart into my home every morning as I take the kids to the bus stop like he's always been here, been the token one that gets to come and go as he pleases.
I don't know where I'm going from here. Hell, I don't even know where I'll be living next month.
Meanwhile, Olaf cries with his nose pressed against the front door at it's casing, begging for kibble and affection, reminding me that patience has never been my virtue when it comes to the unknown and the unseen both tangible and philosophical.
After all, he is just a stray cat who wants to be fed.
And I am just a woman in transit searching for the meaning in, and of, it all.