Permakitten Grace is my favorite. Lately I can’t pretend otherwise. With this onslaught of single-digit temperatures, we’ve spent an inordinate amount of time snuggling and watching old movies together; Little Miss prefers MGM musicals, and I prefer anyone encased in fur this time of year. Really, she’s the only being I wish to live with, and I find the experience so damn enjoyable that I don’t mind sharing the bed with her, though I detest sleeping with any other living being. It’s not that she doesn’t have her foibles. I keep a long list of what pleases her: hugs, making the bed, flopping, snooping, radiators, catnip, windows, dragging her toys around, rumpling up rugs, Ruby Intuition readings, slow blinks from in-the-know humans, squeaking, holding hands, older cats, sock drawers, chicken soup, string, Ella Fitzgerald and Aretha Franklin, compliments (especially on social media; I swear she can tell), my voice. But my list of what scares her is equally long: hugs, making the bed, feet, male voices, snow, bed-making, staying home without me, traveling with me, paper bags, kittens, doorbells, laundry drying racks, trashcans, whiskey, the refrigerator, dish-washing, the clink of silverware, the hissing of steam pipes, bathtubs, fresh air, children, my ex-lovers, our downstairs neighbors, curtains, static, off-key singing (she hides when a certain friend warbles along with records), sudden movements, loud noises, her own shadow.
There’s one exception, and it explodes my heart. Whenever I’m hurt, this tiny being comes running to my side, and stays until she’s sure I’m out of the woods. When the drama with Mr. Oyster ensued, she sat with her paw protectively draped over my arm until I stopped crying. (It took hours.) When I had flu last month, she remained for days on end, no matter how loudly I groaned. And this weekend, when I screamed out after stepping on a nail with bare feet, Gracie came rushing at me with the speed she normally reserves for fleeing in terror, and licked my toes until my weeping ceased. I do not live alone. I live with someone I love who loves me. And love is love.