The day began charmlessly–cold and windy, with vast, horizontal sheets of hail and rain defying even the most substantial of umbrellas. It never found its footing after that, even though I’d donned the cutest bad-weather uniform I could find. (Blue rubber moccasins and a blue fur hat; Muppet chic at your service.) The whole time we taped our show I could barely feel my feet, and my clothing remained uncomfortably damp. Finally, I cried Uncle and retreated home to make a Charlie Bucket soup: a meek concoction of whatever was in my larder since I wasn’t about to go into that not-so-good night, gentle or otherwise. Cabbage, leeks, fennel, chicken stock, parsley, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, sriracha. It was around the ginger that I realized this soup wasn’t going to be so meek after all. By the time I finished two bowls of it, poured over some rice noodles I’d found in the back of a cupboard, I felt like a person again–albeit a person in a flannel nightgown and fuzzy slippers, flanked by a permakitten mawing a dish of the same soup right there on the kitchen table. Afterward, I settled into an armchair with a novel, an afghan, and Betty Carter crooning to Ray Charles through the speakers, and I read by the light of a pink seashell lamp that any boyfriend I’ve ever had would loathe. It was all pretty great, actually. This has been my Cat Lady year, and I’m starting to think everyone should have a few of them. They’re so darn peaceful.
I always forget this time of year is so inhospitable–in its quality and duration of light, in the dread it evokes that is only occasionally contained, in the anxieties masquerading as shared joy. Now that climate change is writ large, we contend with cold rain rather than pretty snow, to boot. Not to mention those tides of change finally, finally rising in Ameriker. Sexton said, “I know that I have died before–once in November.” Amend that to December, please, and pass me an umbrella. Rebirth is very messy.
Now is the time of year when cats become radiator queens. By this I mean that my permakitten Grace has utterly abandoned me for her new paramour, Radiator. “So warm, so undemanding,” I hear her purr when she doesn’t think I am listening. Even when she’s not luxuriating by Radiator’s side, I catch her sending it cat kisses–those slow blinks she once reserved for me. Despite myself, I feel rejected. I am a radiator widow. Hear me mew.