Sunday, October 19, 2014

Jinx is 21 years old. Melanie, his first owner, got him in 1993 and he came to live with Amy, Kitty Girl, and I in Oakland in 2006. When Amy and I parted ways and I moved to San Francisco I left Jinx and Kitty Girl with Amy. Every Friday, when I would go to my weekly therapy appointment, I would arrive to Oakland a couple hours early so I could hang out with the two of them at Amy's apartment, taking a nap on the couch while they slept on my legs and chest. When Amy moved in with Steven, I took the cats into the small apartment on Valencia that I shared with Chris. After a couple years I moved back to Oakland and took the cats with me to a large-for-a-studio apartment just west of downtown. The cats and I lived comfortably there for a year and then Quintin took the cats for the summer of 2012 while Dara and I were in New Mexico, and by August I had officially moved to Indiana to start the program here. The cats spent August and September at Amy and Steven's flat in San Francisco, and then in late September, with the help of Dara, Amy sent the cats via airplane, SFO-->Cleveland-->Indianapolis, and I picked up them up and drove them to my apartment in Lafayette. Kitty Girl died last September and since then Jinx and I have been living the life of bachelors. I never intended to have cats or be a cat person, but that is what has happened.

Jinx is 21 years old. He's skinny and kind of scraggly these days. He still yowls frequently, though not as habitually as he used to. He mostly spends the day sleeping and during the warmer months he settles onto the blanket on the porch. These days it's gotten cool in Indiana, and Jinx doesn't want to go outside. Some days he sleeps on the couch, and sometimes on my bed. Most mornings he gets on my bed around six and most mornings I'm happy to see him, and invite him to lay on a the pillow next to me. When I get up I floss and brush my teeth and he'll sit on the little blue rug in my bathroom or just outside the door and wait for me to finish. I'll watch him in the mirror sometimes and he's usually looking around at the things in the bathroom: the metal trashcan, the dripping toilet, the shower curtain. Rarely does he look up at me, or the parts of me that I think are important, like my eyes or my head. I feed him, and then either start making breakfast for myself or if there's time, do some sitting on the floor of my bedroom. Either way, he'll go back to my bed, climb up the little stair case that I made him, and lay in the imprint of where I was sleeping. It's not unusual to come home after work and school, eight or twelve hours later, and find him sleeping in the exact same spot I saw him last. "Hey buddy," I'll say, and sit down next to him, and kiss him on the top of his head and scratch his ear.

When people come over, on a random Tuesday night or sometime during the weekend, he'll usually be sleeping on the couch. They will sit down and pet him and say thinks like, "Jinx is such a sweet cat," or "You're so nice Jinx," but I know that Jinx used to be an asshole. Now in his old age, dependent on me to take care of him, unable to bully other cats and too rickety to jump and run and cause trouble like he used to do; no longer capable of being an alpha male with no more cats around to set his identity against, he lets himself be babied. Maybe this is what he always wanted but now that Kitty Girl isn't around, he does the things that she used to do. When it's cat food time he'll yowl. He never used to say anything or seem particularly interested in food. I can pick him up and sling him over my shoulder which he never used to let me do. And when I'm moving around the apartment, working some on the couch and then moving to the office, he'll follow and make a bed for himself close to wherever I am. None of these behaviors are unusual for a cats but they are unusual for Jinx. Thus he changes, like we all are capable of doing, based on what the situation dictates. Without Kitty Girl Jinx has become a sweet old cat. I was worried about how he would adapt to not having her in his life, after 20 some years, but he, above all else, is a strong and resilient creature. I am lucky to have him.