Lessons From My Cat on Finding Home and Being Home

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My cat follows me everywhere I go in our apartment, but he does it casually, so that it always looks like an accident that we both ended up in the same room. Ganoush spends a lot of time standing on me. I think he’s trying to comfort me. He’s a very affectionate cat. He cuddles with me when I’m lying down and purrs, making me feel like I am home even if I don’t necessarily have a home right now.

Now Ganoush is resting on my chest, which I’ve been told by friends and lovers alike is truly comfortable. I spent a lot of time asking my cat if he loves me. Ever since I’ve moved back in with my parents, Ganoush has become my only cuddle buddy. In my parents’ apartment, time moves very slowly. I spent a lot of time either sleeping or reading because there is nothing else to do. Most of the day I can be found sprawled out on one of the truly ugly couches that furnish their living room, strategically placing my limbs on the various couch cushions so I can cool down as much as possible in the ridiculous heat of the only room in the apartment that has wifi (and happens to also have a busted AC).

Ganoush has a particularly plaintive meow, which he sounds day and night, when he is bored, hungry, annoyed, wants attention, or just feeling talkative. He tumbles from room to room meowing at me and my sisters, or crouching under couches, beds, tables meowing at the family’s other cats, who are terrified of him. Every now and then I find myself marveling at Ganoush’s ability to acclimate to my parents’ place, something I haven’t been able to do yet. He rubs himself up against my mother’s legs and she complains about how fat he is. He curls up between my sister’s legs when she’s trying to sleep and she complains about how heavy and warm he is. He playfully lets himself be chased around the apartment by my brother. My brother complains about how Ganoush doesn’t like him. Everyone complains about Ganoush’s presence–which I think is just a way for them to complain about my presence without actually complaining about my presence- in my family’s habit of triangulation.

I feel like I have absorbed some Ganoush-like qualities since moving back in with my parents. Ganoush being, for all intents and purposes, my current best friend, in the sense that he is the being I spent most of my time with, the being I interact with physically and talk to on a regular basis, I have picked up on some of his habits. This is not to say I have started pooping in a litter box and licking my own genitals (wouldn’t that be an interesting talent?), but I find myself slowing down with him, lying down and curling up in bed when I feel the need. I reach out to friends when I need to, in the human equivalent of rubbing my head against someone’s leg or standing on someone’s chest for ten minutes contemplating the best way to cuddle up to them. I have always had trouble remembering that I am loved when the people who do the loving are physically far away from me, so I have been soaking up the knowledge that my cat feels some kind of love for me when he falls asleep with his head against my chest, or he when stands on my stomach for five excruciating minutes surveying the space around me and inevitably falls asleep with half his body resting on my arm.

Everything around me has slowed down to match the pace Ganoush and I have taken up to cope with the purgatory of done with college /don’t yet have a job. My phone lags, my computer is slow to open various applications, my Kindle protests to my tapping to sift through pages of ebooks. Every semester in college had been a sprint, and the time between semesters had been no time for rest as I psyched myself up to start another race, find an internship, read the ten books I’ve been meaning to read since before freshmen year, so on and so forth. College has been my greatest achievement, the only marathon I managed to run to the end line. Now I want to stretch, fill up my water bottle, and start running again, but the world seems to be telling me to breathe, take a moment, lie down with my cat in bed, and rest for a little bit.

Ganoush, my black tiger baby, has spent the last several months of being family torturing me. He chases me around the apartment, scratches my legs when he is bored, bites my hands if I pet him wrong, and meows incredibly loudly for no clear reason. And yet, Ganoush is what makes my parents’ place a home. Ganoush is what makes me a home. He curls up around me at night and becomes part of me. We need each other for comfort and for love. And because of Ganoush, I am fairly certain that I will survive the terrifying post-college world.

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