My wonderful writing coach, Jill Kelly (http://www.jillkellyeditor.com/), has suggested writing down the story of each of our cats. So I will start with the first, the greatest, the wonderful and sublime Ziggy.
It happened at Easter. Easter 1998. I was at my friends' E and L's for Easter dinner. They are a wonderful couple, head of a wonderful family, and they understand holy days and sacraments with a rare depth of spirituality and passion. Anyway, I was there, looking out the window, when this big old orange cat wandered into the yard. L happened to be near me. The cat met my eyes, and he was so unafraid, so knowing, I just blurted out, "Hey, he looks like trouble."
L said, "Actually, no, he's one of the sweetest cats ever. He was left behind by one of the neighbors when they moved away. We love him, and we'd keep him ourselves, except that our cat, Phoebe goes ballistic whenever he comes in the yard."
I said, "Oh." And I had another glass of wine.
After dinner, I went outside for a cigarette. (I was still smoking then.) I sat on the bench outside the front door, and who should appear but the big orange cat. He was a longhair, by the way. Orange tabby with a white underside. Probably a Maine Coon. Well, I took one puff of my cigarette and looked him in the eye while he looked at me. Then he jumped in my lap. He put one paw on the left side of my neck and one paw on the right side and squeezed--a kitty hug. Then he started rubbing his cheeks against mine, first the left, then the right.
L happened to oversee this and came out and sat beside me. She said, "You know, this neighborhood used to be orthodox. And the woman across the street never fit in because she was a convert to Judaism, and she was never completely accepted by the neighbors. Well, she and I became friends. She and her husband had five kids, and then he told her he was going back to Israel to fight in the Israeli army. The last we heard, though, he was in Boston and he wanted advice on getting a job as a computer programmer. Anyway, eventually, they got a divorce, and she moved back into her parents' basement with her five kids. They left Ziggy behind. She gave me a bag of food and asked me to feed him for three month. But they've been gone for fifteen months now, and he's still here, and we don't know what to do with him. If you want to take him, I think it would be fine."