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Cats, Humans, and Our Masks

Welcome to my blog, Ground One.

Ground Zero :  Function:  noun; Date:  1946 ~ 1: the point directly above, below, or at which a nuclear explosion occurs; 2: the center or origin of rapid, intense, or violent activity or change; 3: the very beginning .

Ground One:  Function: verb; Date: 2008 ~ 1: to create a new beginning from an ending, starting from the ground up; 2: to use one’s  life beliefs and values to break new ground; 3: to ground oneself; i.e., to become one with the earth or universal whole; 4: to journey within to find new solutions to ancient problems;  5:  to use one’s unique individual gifts to improve the whole; 6: to find common ground among a diversity of cultures, philosophies, and ideas.

                We adopted a new cat a couple of months ago, the day after Thanksgiving. She is small and sweet, the paradox of our previous (ma)lines, who were all heft and hulk and reminded me of furry little John Waynes. We renamed her Harley because her face is reminiscent of a Harlequin’s mask. It’s a face all dressed up for a ball that she’ll never go to—half gray, half caramel. Her name became even more appropriate because she zips around every morning like a racy purring motorcycle.

            Long before the new name, when we were falling in love with her, the PetSmart worker told us she’d always be a lap cat, never a cat that would play with us. She also told us Harley was only two years old. We set out to prove her wrong on both predictions, and we turned out to be right. She’s at least four years old, and she loves to play. But sadly, she was also wrong on all counts. Harley is not a lap cat. She’s a rub-around-the legs cat. She’s a jump-and-catch-the-mouse cat. In two months, she has sat in my lap only once. I’m not sure what moved her to put her trust in my lap, but ever since then, she has become even more elusive.

            She may have been abused. She may have been handled roughly in the shelter. She may just not trust us because she lost the person she loved most. Whatever the reason, she’s made me think about my own level of trust of the human race, and how it’s more jaded now than when I was new to friendship, love, and even work. I’m not as open even with those who are dear to me as I once was. I’m not even as open with myself. I pretend like I’m all together, don’t need a thing, don’t let anyone get too close to know I have problems, don’t let anyone get close enough to wound me. Yes, I wear my own Harlequin mask.

            I have friends who are dealing with how much to trust in romantic relationships, but even being past all that, I can see the hurts that I once had cropping up again in my daily interactions. I’m sure no one notices it but me because I’m an extremely friendly person. Yet I have my “stranger” side, as Billy Joel once put it.

            The antagonist in Incongruent is very much a Harlequin character, if one were to mythologize him. He wants so much to love and be loved. He comes forward, rubs his soft fur, purrs, startles, runs and hides under the dining room table or drives like mad back to his home, or even his homeland. I wonder if Harley realizes that by not receiving our caresses, by not settling into our laps, her life is colder. I hope she does, and that she eventually opens herself up to receive—for in doing that she will be giving us a wonderful gift.