Sometimes you are the saddest girl in the world, stirring quietly in the depths of your poetic loneliness and your anger at how blistering the central Pennsylvania summer can be. (This is called “hot mad”.)
And other times, dear friends and mentors ask you to live with their awesome cat for two weeks, and this helps to mitigate your vigilant woefulness.
May I introduce with pleasure, Zee Boogwa.
Boogie is her given name, and she’s the cat-daughter of our friends and academic associates, Monika and Shannon. Found one day a few years ago in a back alley (Monika is lucky she is so good at spotting small kittens that can fit in your palm instead of accidentally running them over with her bike), Boogie is the apple of the Monika/Shannon eye, and I have always been quite fond of her as well. Still scrappy, a testament to her early life on the street, Boogie is mostly fluff– spend a few weeks with her and you are bound to see tumbleweeds of grey fur float gently along the hardwood.
But, everyone needs a vacation sometimes and not everyone can take their luxuriously silky cats along with them. And so, with Monika and Shannon heading out west for part of the summer, I agreed to move in and keep Boogie company, though perhaps it was the other way around.
I was lonely, and it was hot, and for two weeks I more or less hid in the house, glad to have Boogie, to whom I had begun speaking exclusively in a very false French accent, hence “Zee Boogwa”. (“Dooz Zee Boogwa want to eat ‘err leetle foodz? Ohhh yezzz that’z a good Boogwa.”) And so, with the exception of going to work, and a few friend sightings toward the end of my stay, it was pretty much just me and Boogie, all day, all night, all the time.
This was also at the peak of my Law & Order consumption, and the low of my food consumption. Every time I’d talk to my brother on the phone he’d ask what I was doing and I would reply as usual:
“Watching Law & Order. In someone else’s house.”
“What did you eat today?”
“Ohhhh Erica” (this is the tone he always takes when he re-realizes my life has hit a new low)
And so I was hot, and I was lonely, and I was beginning to form a very exclusive relationship with Mariska Hargitay and then I got sick and BOH BOH BOH I was so sad, etc, but I had Zee Boogwa, and she was of the greatest company.
First of all, she is hilarious. She iz zee boss.
She always just kind of looks at you like that. She’s sweet, but by no means the most affectionate cat around. Boogie’s not much for sitting on your lap, but she likes to be within sight of you. Just wants to keep tabs. Very often I’d be in the kitchen, well, boiling my rice noodles and I would turn and she’d be sitting on the humidifier…just kind of looking at me. Making sure I was still there. She would never sleep in the bed with me, or even in the same room, but I’d come out in the morning and she’d be vigilantly by the door, as if she’d been listening to make sure I was still breathing.
It was nice to have someone looking out for me.
She’s also quite mischievous, and playful– loves corks, and rubber rings, and feathers of all varieties. The house was clean, very put together, everything in its place, but each morning I’d find objects all over the floor, tiny Boogie makeshift toys of mysterious origins…I’m not sure where she managed to dredge up all these little pieces of miscellany. One morning I came downstairs to see that she’d broken a vase. She was just standing next to it, looking up at me with her head slightly tilted. (She probably did it with her voluminous tail– Jake claims to have once seen her descend all the stairs in one leap, only touching down mid-flight, powered by her large tail.)
I began to realize that Boogie was lonely too, that she missed her vacationing family, and I missed my vacationing bearded companion, and we were just two sad girls who liked listening to Law & Order for six hours a day while lounging about, listless in the ache of mid-July heat, stirring the rice noodle water quietly and playing with old corks. I think we were good for each other, and every night instead of coming home to an empty house that was too hot to dream in, I had Boogie. I’d turn the key and she’d be there, standing by the door, fur fluffed from the overhead fan I’d left on for her, head tilted with relief as if to say, “I’m here; I’ve been waiting here the whole time; I thought you’d never come back.”