It’s the usual morning thing with my housemate. Out she comes, hair disheveled, saying nothing to me, making a beeline towards breakfast. She eats quickly, head down, then a sip of water—no coffee for this one—and off she goes again to her ground-floor digs. Dinner’s much the same, though at that point in the day her hair’s organized itself. (Such beautiful hair, the color of ginger and chocolate.)
We met, my housemate and I, last winter, just as the weather began to turn cold. I could hear her knocking around down below. No parties, no big commotion, but every so often a thump or a bang that let me know she was home. She is attractive, I must admit. She is also genuinely unaware of her comeliness and this makes her all the more attractive. Unlike most people I know, I find it difficult to live in the presence of those I find attractive. Their loveliness can burn my eyes.
But this one. This one proves the exception. As she crosses before me on her way to her morning bowl of delicious whatever-it-is, or runs off across the yard to her next engagement, I am simply able to admire her, her natural athleticism, her flowing hair and green eyes, her sense of independence. I don’t feel awkward or tongue-tied, though we seem to have very little to say to one another. And when I do find language necessary, I don’t stumble or stutter. I’m comfortable with her. What a good and grownup feeling that is, to be comfortable with those with whom we would like to be close.
She hasn’t yet let me come close. Not too close. When I was an amateur in relationship, that was always the draw. The ones I had to chase were the ones I wanted most. A terrible model for intimacy. I don’t recommend it. But just the other day I mentioned to her that I had some good qualities and she should take note. We’d arrived at a little tangle and I thought it useful to the situation to mention my patience, fortitude, and the fact that I owned the house in which we resided. Her response was the usual. She is the mistress of understatement. But something must have gotten through to her because she seems calmer, less fearful. She no longer hurries through her breakfast, and sometimes we spend time outside in the yard together. I happened to notice she’s without a proper bed, and though I have an extra one in the garage, she continues to refuse it. So not all is “Yes ma’am and thank you.” There’s still plenty of that fierce independence. But I think I’ve learned to let go a little and she’s learned to lean in. This is what can happen when a stray cat takes up residence under your house.
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