It’s amazing what a couple of years’ perspective can do for images of the ordinary. At one phase of life, what had been extraordinary was prosaic only a few years later.
While I lived in Maine, there was a certain prosaism to life. Maintain the Cap’ns boat, live in the Cove, work at Spinney’s Boatyard. Individually parts were appealing. As though being normal was akin to getting enough fiber with your morning cereal or an abundance of vegetables in your diet.
A few years later, regular was paying student loans, sailing in the Charles River, and having enough money to keep a beater of a car on the road.
Within a few years, this had changed as well.
One night I was in my cups and wondering whether I was drifting. I felt that I had reached one of those existential plateaus. I had to move on, or I’d forever stay where I was. So, having no place else to turn, I sat down next to my cat. Now my cat Clancy ( AKA the Grey Menace) was reluctant to offer advice, being I usually didn’t accept advice he had to offer. Some of his stuff was pretty far out: using your tongue for cleaning and such like that.
But I was desperate. So against Clancy’s better judgment, he told me that normal and satisfactory boiled down to basics: enough filet mignon, a comfortable place to sleep, and nip. He then added that a regular supply of O negative blood was a bonus. He then bit me and cleaned the blood off his paws, claiming that was his professional fee for a consultation.
The following day I woke and remembered the bite and the conversation. The Menace was studiously ignoring me for a sunny spot to bask in. His very pose seemed to suggest the veracity of his advice. I wondered if I should check into the hospital for a mental health check just for considering a drunken conversation with a cat for life advice. He offered me a pitying look that seemed to say, ” Don’t say I offered bad advice later on!”
Over the years, I realized that there was a sort of minimalist sense to his advice, basics that provide shelter, comfort, food, a modicum of pleasure were fundamental. From there, you could build. Normal did not mean ideal or luxurious. Those were aspirational, and once you had the basics, you could work on those.
But his insistence on the O negative blood? There’s about as much chance of that as an enchanted snowfall in July. Yuck.