Yesterday I moved a glass top table between rooms. Actually I moved a glass top table from the back room to the outside patio. It was not a terribly difficult maneuver; requiring only direct application of strength, and the tiniest bit of ingenuity at the door jam. I was watched, carefully, by several new cats. They have been named as follows: silver and white polka dot: Darcy, Black with white socks: Wellington, Long haired black and white: Remi. They seemed to think I did a nice enough job with it and quickly went back to chasing cicadas. They are very forgiving taskmasters.
Last night I went to a show at Donkey with a few of the other grad students to see a band called Ukulele Typewriter. I had heard rumors about them before, and they appear to all be completely true. They consisted entirely of two men singing and playing, respectively, the Ukulele and percussion on a typewriter. They did various covers which were all, frankly, hilarious, in this new form. The night was actually cold and I felt inspired by the laughter wandering into the streets out of bars. My new friends seemed wonderfully free and confident. I wanted to stay out all night with no plans at all. I wanted to say to someone, “Let’s see how far we can walk then walk before we collapse! Let’s go find a body of water and jump in, fully clothed!” Really, I wanted to say, “Let’s do something!” And someone to answer, “Yes!” And leave it at that. I wanted to give birth to plans. I wanted to fall in love with everyone I passed on the street. I have no idea why. It was probably the caffeine. I wanted to run and join every party in the streets. But I didn’t. Euphoria or not, I returned to my house. That’s just me, I guess.
As soon as I sat down in the living room, my head exploded with pain. It wasn’t a normal, throbbing headache, but straight, shredding hurt. I tried to sleep, the best cure for a headache by far, but nothing would come. Around 3 am I finally got up, dizzy and furious with my body. Lying down only intensified the pain. Moving made it worse. Drinking made my entire skull throb. I scoured the house until I found something , anything that listed ‘headache’ as a treatable symptom. I took it and sat in the dark of the study and waited for the nails to fade. My cat, of course, had followed me downstairs. At the end of the study, the huge, windowed doors I had moved a table through were closed, now. Behind them I could see Zelda and her kittens lying on the chairs I had set up earlier. Claudette saw them too.
I had worried about what she might think of seeing outside cats. She had been abandoned as a kitten, and since then had no interest at all in outside. In fact, she would avoid any open door once she realized where it led. I kept her completely as an indoor cat. I didn’t want her to think that she was stuck; that she was trapped. It was quickly obvious that she didn’t feel that way at all. She sat, ladylike, in front of the doors, watching the kittens with mild interest. I realized that I was looking at a tiny, fluffy version of myself. She was an observer, separate from the community she was studying. It didn’t bother her. She was composed, collected, and vaguely curious. It was strangely peaceful. I passed her quietly. She jumped up to follow me. She was happy enough to just go to bed. When I woke today, she was curled against my shoulder. I felt fragile but painfree. I drove to the stable and rode for two hours, burying the frailty under sweat and dust and bruises and sore muscles. I went home feeling completely, and perfectly healthy.
Tonight I walked home from the cafe, alone. I felt, as any girl does in this position, vulnerable. I often wonder if guys feel like this, or is it only us? Someone yelled from a porch, “Hey baby, you’re lost. The party’s right here!” I laughed at the line, strangely braver for it. I found myself hoping that I would find that boy in one of my classes; the tables turned, the power tipped. These are the sudden transitions between strength and frailty that define our lives; moving objects through space, facing our pain in hand to hand combat, winning, walking alone in the dark, finding home.