Monday, August 31, 2009


People about the tattoo on my forearm all the time (apologies for the cellphone picture, but my wife got the camera in the divorce settlement). It’s a cute one, for sure. The other day at my new book club, the coordinator asked if it had anything to do with Rita Mae Brown's cutesy cat detective series. Turns out Rita Mae – whose Venus Envy I enjoyed very much – broke up her grandparents’ marriage. I assured my new book club boss that it had nothing to do with Sneaky Pie Brown.

Zopie’s Caffeine Fix was a basement coffee shop on S.U. hill, below a frat bar called Harry's. It was filled with smoke, student art, books, and live music and poetry. I tell people the tattoo is similar to their logo and it reminds me of home. In the actual logo, the cat had a lit cigarette dangling from its mouth.   I still remember going there for intense debate fueled by caffeine and nicotine, reading poetry on open mic nights (God help us), and seeing my friends play music.

A fractious relationship with the landlord (and owner of Harry's bar) kept Zopie's on shakey ground until Starbucks moved in two blocks away and buried it completely.

But the tattoo means more than memories. I love the idea of ascribing human desires on animals, the stupid addictions and interactions we obsess over which mean nothing to cats. I’ve spent hours crafting a painting I’ve loved only to have my cat sharpen his claws on it. This keeps me humble. What’s the importance of my painstaking efforts in the grand scheme of things? Not so much.

Today is the day of my final walkthrough on the Treehouse. The real estate agents and I will inspect the modest space, note any flaws, and I’ll get the keys to my new place. It will take all of eight minutes to say goodbye to my old life.

Every time I think I’m done being surprised, some new development knocks me on my ass. When I think I’ve shed my last tear and really moved on, another jag hits me by surprise. I suppose it would be odd if I was completely healed at this point, but I’m tired of even brief moments of misery. I’m excited at the changes in my life, and I’d like to focus on that.

Unfortunately, although my wife rang this bell, she’s finding it much harder to stop the vibrations. She’s looking to me for support, and I’m the last person who wants to be a friend to her right now.

After a decidedly odd weekend, I’m looking at a Google map of how to get to my new studio, feeling sorry for myself, when Minime jumps on the counter and flops down on my paper. Minime knows she’s coming to the Treehouse with me. She’ll finally be the only woman in my life, the way she’s always wanted. Covering the map with her furry little body, she gives me that half-lidded, I’m so over this look, as only cats can. Her half-grunt, half-meow is filled with disdain.

“What’s with the moping?” she wants to know. “You eat, you sleep, you lick yourself, you move on. Stop making everything so complicated.”

I can’t argue with that kind of reasoning.

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