The neighbor's cat comes down the stairs to sit on the back porch. She hears me rummaging around in the kitchen making my green tea, cooking breakfast. She'll hop up on the window sill and talk to me through the screen, 'ehrrhw.' She'll look up at me as I look out the back door's window panes. She'll chirp a squeak, then back to a more fricative sound. There she is with her grey face and white nose looking in from the sill as I eat a hamburger after my shower. Eventually I will go out and say hi to her, give her a rough pat, her hair flying off into the wind, I'll give her a few spanks on her back by the tail, maybe give her tail a pull so that she claws into the banister. She might make a move, pretending to run away, but she is right back asking for more. I fold a wrinkle free shirt for work, slip it into the pages of a legal pad, and do the things of getting ready for work. She doesn't give up on me, and sometimes I let her in, so she can smell the juju of my own Miss Kitty who died more than a year ago. In life they hissed at each other, a good swat now and again.
I think sometimes of customers in random moments, people I haven't seen for a while. And then, strange thing, they often show up shortly after. It's like there is a part of our brains beyond words, a mode in which we might expect each other, see a visit coming, recognize a rhythmic regularity of dropping by, one of the blessings of being a bartender. The cat and I don't need to set up a meeting, yes, we know our rhythms, but there we are most days going through our little routine. Where were you? I wanted to come in. And I tell a customer, the one I haven't seen in a good while, you know, I was just thinking about you.
The salt of the earth, that's the stuff, not always explained, not always rationally understood. The Dalai Lama knows that there is an inner world, of the brain, as vast and as unexplored as the Universe without.
Before I go I look through the screen door. The cat is reclined on her side, her belly toward me, her head up, in a sexy or relaxed mood. "Ehrrhw," she says, punctuating my activities. "Who is 'ehrrhw'," I ask. "EHHRoHWo!" she replies with a squeak. Okay, good. I go out and give her another quick vigorous two handed back rub and she digs in on her belly about to run. I go in, close the door, put my socks on, tie my shoes, and off to work I go.
Yesterday walking through the woods, talking to mom on the phone she tells me, after reading too much Henry James, she has picked up Sherwood Anderson. Oh, good, I say. Did you read the introduction about the old carpenter and the old writer who has this vision of something like Joan of Arc clad in armor within? Oh I'll have to, she replies.