Tag: storytelling

When the cat is away

A black and white cat wandered in , swishing her tail as she nuzzled her chin and ears against the ottoman, over by the blond sofa table . The little fur ran alongside the back of two wide, wooden arm chairs in the other part of the room. The chairs were always in the gloom . A part of the room that didn’t get light from anywhere, it seem to be the working or card games part of the “garden room ” . Strange lighting for a work place, I felt like that wasn’t a part of the room I was invited into going.

I watched the cat rub against the table, slinking and purring on the area rug peeking out from underneath. She was a thin, small, well, I paused- not small- but muscular and–lanky. I cocked my eyebrow. Could a cat be lanky? ” ” That cat is slinky and long and slipped out like a fog. ” The man came into the room and slipped to his knees.

” Can a cat be lanky?” ” That cat can!” The man had wavy light hair and a massive frame of limbs and chest, I noticed as he walked in the room from the hallway. ” I don’t know what to call her, except that she reminds me of an ancient long legged animal, who was thin in some places and muscular in others and meek. “. I smiled , she looked like a neighborhood cat that had started hanging around our home in recent months. ” She is a dainty little-“- I wrinkled my nose. ” No, she is not dainty nor little , but lean and muscular and confident. She is an independent woman , in control of her surroundings and life!” I got down on my knees and rubbed her left ear, she tumbled over onto her side and then rolled over onto her back. Her pink and white underside was open for all of us to see and pay tribute.

“She knows she is the Queen of all her Kingdoms, all humans attend her at once.” Her head rubbed against my knuckles still on the carpet. ” She has the whole area at her command” She wiggled and settled her back against the edge of the ottoman. The tall, wide, firm gentleman in a fitted dark blue suit and a pale blue shirt with a red and gold tie, reached over and scratched her tummy. “She is a rascal, slipping away.”

The man looked up at me . ” What is your name and what is your research assignment? I presume that is why you are here in the private wing. He stood up with the cat in his arms. “Did you not comprehend what could be done and what would happen if you were not respectful of where you were entrusted to be?” He was firm and deliberate with his cinnamon and gold hair bristling out from his eyebrows framing an acorn shaped face. His sharp, brown eyes with their dark centers were looking at the cat and rubbing her back fur, but the question and tone of voice were what people said to others when they were annoyed . ” I take very poorly to being challenged. I thought I had made myself plain when I STATED what was allowed earlier. We are here by permission, not on a personal vacation, researcher.” ” His eyebrows looked down on me. The hair on the back of my neck and the frustration in the pit of my stomach flared up. Marie had just told me , nobody was to give me any trouble, in the Garden room.

” I don’t have an assignment, -” I rocked back away from the cat and himself. ” What are you doing in here ? ” I started backing up toward s the garden door, then stopped. ” I am supposed to be in here. Where are YOU supposed to be ? You sound like YOU”RE from the conference, which I assure you I am not interfering with the work. I came back in for some paper and a pen.” I reached for my booklet and pen , I had found early this morning. My green eyes and chin pointing at his chin “, YA”LL must have a free am off for you are the 3rd person I have meet in the last 1- no-3 hours.who are interfering with MY WORK!”

“She has it ,Cyrus. I told her not an hour , ago . She is our house guest and this is HER room, in which that you ARE interfering. Marie walked in from the outer garden. She was grinning and her disposition was sunny and steely as it had been earlier . ” This is the conference chairman , and he was just looking for strays, weren’t you? ” He has the difficult job of keeping up with all the research being done during the conference. Marie looked up and her eyes were deadly serious and her frame was a relaxed stone.

His face and expression showed no gladness in dealing with either one of us. ” I still don’t know what or who? ” The dark brown and gold stripped suit looked down at the small woman whose hands held a double fisted bouquets of tiny, blue and pink blossoms . ” I was going to take these and set them up in the green room . Do you think there will be an argument in less than 10 minutes or not? ” Cyrus’ mouth puckered and his eyes became hooded. ” you like to stir up issues, don’t you? We have enough _- I have enough disputes to put up, without having you throwing weeds up in the air, muddy everything. ” He whipped his brown and black checked -cape? around the top of the table and left weaving through the furniture and out.

” Oh, the power of the powerful – mighty in his swish of that mantle. We should ALL be awed and do his will , JUST because HE states his views again . ” I picked up the papers which had flown into a twister and were scattered on the chairs, floors and sofa. Putting them on the back table , listened to her musings as she reached for vases in a side cabinet. ” Power can be tricky ,” Marie said in a voice so sad and melancholy ,it made me sad. ” It can make you feel completely worthless or completely stiff and unyielding. Either way , it is a dangerous character and a dangerous partner.”

Circles

The longer I sat up , the better I felt,sort of better.   My eyes slammed  shut . I didn’t want to know where I was .  My niece was known to send email out of the blue.  Sometimes, I could lean in and see rather well, what she was talking or doing and where.  I can remember she and my sister talking at the kitchen table, all curious and listening to others seated around,

The white painted metal daisies chandelier which was wound around a  wrought iron stick hanging from the round curled piece mounted from the ceiling.  Each light was fashioned to look like a candle perched on a branch. The whole piece poised over the chalky white pedestal table. The family had long discussions, disputes and work sessions  around the round ” fiberglass” top .  We couldn’t even agree on  what material made the table.  It always seemed rather magical to me.  The wide spun white top perched upon a slender stalk with its wide, spread-out bottom.  A carefully balanced table which seemed to float in the kitchen space, not supported by  the daisy branches or attached to any object .   The white and blue space hosted many a project, many a homework bouts and many, many times of unifying communications (without electronics ,without machines).  Certainly there were always lots of elbows and books perched on the table edges or tucked in between whatever dishes and food items.  It wasn’t the center of the house, but it was the unified place, where we could have space to spread out and work or to have room to breathe when unity seem very far away from the conflicting arguments poised in the air.

I wondered what had whisked me away to my parents’ kitchen.  Hardly a comforting place since I spent some of the most miserable times glued to the blue fiberglass pedestal chair.   Frustrating projects, impossible paperwork and a large amount of time sitting  were large parts of my life. Mostly it was being confined to listening to just about any topic that I “needed to learn or hear about.”  The topics were sometimes over my head ( which would mean being sent to the reading room to find a series of books so that I would not be uneducated )

Conversant in many areas of the body of knowledge was expected in my family.  ” Ignorance is no excuse for X,Y Z semicolon” was the refrain that my parents would state if anyone at the table didn’t understand what was going on.

There isn’t a specified dogma.  Inquiry was the road to holding your own in the world .  If you want to succeed (my mother’s word),or survive! (my father’s term) , you had to have a wide ocean of knowledge and the skills required to sail out of the harbor .   We were to have the means  to conduct ourselves with respect, character, manners( my mother!) and a sense of responsibility to the family, our community, our profession and ourselves  (my father!) .  No excuses!!   Also, a wide amount of curiosity and tolerance was steeped into our psyches, it was just there in everything that my father and my mother worked at during their waking hours.  My Dad was a researcher at the University and my mother was an inquisitive, realistic, no-nonsense perfectionist.  She had been  a nurse before she married my Dad. She brought the tenacity and detail-orientation to running a house, running charities or taking care of us kids.  She also had a warm smile to go along with her warm and caring heart.

I turned over and put my back to the couch. I didn’t want to move . I found myself wondering what my mother would do in this situation.  She loved to dream of traveling to exotic destinations. My brother would say, quietly to us that he felt sorry for the natives when my parents arrived.  The town would know our parents had arrived as sure as a cat 2 hurricane.    I wonder what the list of Scientific hypotheses and guidance my father would design to study the environment and conditions I was in.  That would probably be  the way he approached this place ,the sensible means to work on a solution to the mystery.  My father loved mysteries especially natural, real ones.

I sat up and leaned against the back of the couch which seemed to be my escape safety place. It felt familiar and real and not any confusion connected to it.  I spent a lot of time on the long, cushioned modern component sofa in the family den, reading on a Sunday afternoon, playing with the dog or drawing an illustration from some discussion I had with my Dad.  My drawings were  not nearly as impressive or as rich in detail as my Dad and my sister paintings.  I did try and I enjoyed the challenge.

I stretched and opened my eyes to a garden of ivy vines and flowers around the patio .  Pulling up the yard quilt, I reached for the pad I had the night before.  On it, I had written” where to start?”   it reminded me of a song my sister and I loved. ” Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.”   The only problem with that was the start was all I had.  The query was where to set off from there.  The facts I had to examine did not make any tangible sense in the rationality of facts.    A sense of confusion and lack of rationality seemed to be the reality , the established structure of the realm .

Query, how does one proceed in a framework that is counter to every principle that I knew.?

Safety

Safety such a reassuring word. Visions of warm blankets and relaxing places, clearly seen in my mind’s eye. Tears squeezed out of my physical eyes, which I kept shut. I didn’t want to face what I would see.

The warm room with the brightly lit window, the flowers outside was lovely . They were not the familiar oaks or the swimming pool with the tiki lamps. This room was NOT  the green and turquoise couch with the orange and green block rug taking up half of the wood paneled den my home.  That Den was a large warm and cozy place where the family gathered in.  It had wide,tall  bookshelves along 2 walls and a large, panoramic window.

The round maple coffee table that was so large around the entire family could eat fondue at it.  The legs of the table were barely off the floor.  So , you could eat comfortably,i f you could fold your legs into a pretzel and fit underneath.   I never had trouble, but my long legged siblings always grumbled when dinner was served, there.  I never had any trouble fitting in.  My parents didn’t try but sat sideways like bedouins in the desert.   It was exotic.  I put my hands to my face and slid sideways onto the soft, squishy cushions.  I hunched my shoulders and hid in the nobby thick corner. I missed those dinners and the messy, cheesy, chocolatey  laughter- filled fun.  In my mind’s eye, I could see my brother and sister  holding up the skewer to see who could make the longest cheese string and make it in their mouths .  Mom would be grinning , with that eyebrow tilted up.  Dad would be constructing a symphony of ingredients on his skewer and twirling it in the pot . We would all laughed when one of the morsels fell in the pot and Dad kissed Mom ,because that was the Swiss custom.  He would then treat us all to the stories of foreign customs and tales of  other places.

Now my siblings would be clogging up the phones, trying to call to get info.  They would be grumbling again , wondering what I had done this time, again.  My mother cleaning everything that wasn’t moving.  She would be trying not to let anyone see that she was tearing up.   She was such a worrywart, now I was the one getting worried.  Dad would be out scouring the surroundings and moving quicker to more worried he became. He would be more  calm and analytical the more worried he got.  Marie had said that she was sending someone to go and tell my family that I was coming home soon.

Oh, there would be questions and  answers that I didn’t have and the answers I did have wouldn’t pass the Scientific inquiry standards. My mother would be angry and instill large measures of guilt. She was the expert at guilt ! My Dad would be tearing up and angry at all the fear and worry that everyone had.  I feel so guilty ! I shrank when I thought of the lecture from my Dad.   I sank into the back cushions. Oh brother,  I was gong to be lectured to and complain about for hours about how could I be so irresponsible. Didn’t I know that they had more important matters than to keep track of me.  When was I going to ever be responsible ??   I was so insecure and wondered what was I so insecure about:? My  surroundings, confusion about rules and my standing in this place.? I was not threatened or made to feel unwanted.  How funny my heart was? I had been trying to do other things  that was responsible and independent, separate from my parents.

Now? Knowing the people around you, knowing the rules that everyone lived by, and did them ,was that safety?   I pressed my shoulders and head tighter into the pillows. Oh God, I want to be quiet and comforted.  Safe?

Journey

A journey is a time and place around you.  It may be as easy as delivering a gift to someone who needs the gift and a bit of human interaction. A journey can be traveling to visit a close family member who has moved.  Sometimes, a journey is just finding a bathroom for a young child,who NEEDS to go.  Journeys can be short in the architectural sense but very long in the hopes,dreams and striving to achieve realms.   People like to plan for journeys, excursion, vacations or just the normal ” “running errands”and such.  There is a comfort in the challenge to complete the plans.

The journey can be exciting and a little scary or it can be a continuity and comfort in the familiarity of the trip.   Moving from one item on the list to another place is a part of living, it is a way to stretch and revitalize our bodies and minds.   It is also, a way to live and achieve that is sometimes understandable, sometimes frustrating or annoying. We accept that there are places and manners that we have to do in order to accomplish what we strived to achieve.