I unexpectedly found myself in dress pants, my gardening shirt, a hunting jacket, and sockless in my old kitchen clogs that were still stained from flour and sugar the weekend before walking southward on Calford Avenue screaming out my cat’s name – Cid – at 7:23 in the morning. I was only just showered and my hair still wet and tousled. Unready in the slightest to be seen by another person and barely sure what day it was still. Yet, regardless, and even without my usual jolt of caffeine, fear was enough to propel me through the cold drizzle.
Because my baby was missing.
All I could think of was last night - sitting in bed reading with Cid purring contently on my lap - could not be the last time I had him with me. The universe could not allow it to be this way. The universe and circumstance could not let my last interaction with Cid be me kicking him off at four in the morning because he insisted on sleeping over my knees and buckling them as a purr-crazy feline show of affection.
Cid, my companion of the last ten years who had seen me through break-ups and an engagement, college and grad school, who had listened quietly and intently to my ramblings, who creeped on to the couch to sit on my nap like a ninja so that I couldn't possibly see him coming in case I wasn’t in the mood, and who rode around on Fiance’s shoulder’s like a pirate’s parrot…
This could not be actually happening.
But it was.
When I realized Cid was missing I roused Fiance and Roommate (whom with only one short sentence I verbally eviscerated stem to sternum and left it at that) and recruited them in the hunt. We checked under cars, in bushes, in trees, everywhere that seemed feasible. Feasible, of course, in this state, is a wary notion. Nothing and everything seems feasible from him hiding under an old tire to calling my old neighbors eight blocks down just in case he went to the old apartment that flooded. We searched for five hours with me taking only a short break to run to Kinko’s and make Missing Kitty fliers that were quickly secured to every windshield wiper and lamppost in a four block radius.
Then I went home and I broke down. Hard. Because after searching and calling for hours on end and not taking time to really dwell on the situation because that’ll only waste precious time and energy and you need to be out there DOING something not sitting there and worrying, well, what more can you do? What can you do but cry into a shoulder wondering about everything you didn't do and what you did do in the short amount of time in life you get to spend with another creature? We're told all the time to cherish every moment, but it's hard to do with careers and social lives and favorite television shows and all those other things that demand our time or that we give our time to. We nod in agreement, yes, I cherish my peoples and family, but do we really? We're people and we're silly and stupid and we DON'T appreciate those beings in our lives until they're gone and time is up. At that point all you really can do is cry. And even if you do live it up to the moment with your loved ones you'll always realize you could have done m.o.r.e.
I made my way to work and pulled a half day. I wasn’t very productive. If at all. I was hollow. Except for a few calls to shelters and the SPCA I tried to lose myself in a book and keep my mind and emotions preoccupied. Busy. Whathaveyou............
Lucky, for me I had support. Roommate continued to comb the area in his car in an attempt to help but also to simply steer clear of me. (The sentence I had said earlier being: “I cannot talk to you right now,” cutting off his sincerest apology and attempting to, literally, crush his throat down into a crumpled mess like old tissue with my words. I don’t think I have ever sounded so angry and raw. I was taken aback at how ready I was to hurt him emotionally and how little I cared of the outcome.) Fiance trekked through the neighborhood and informed strangers to please keep an eye out. Friends and strangers on Facebook offered sympathies and advice and often stories of their own cats who had wandered off only to show up hungry and mewling for food days or even weeks later. All of this gave me confidence.
Still, I couldn’t help but let my mind wander to What If’s, each one being darker than the one before. Nightmare tapestries weaved from facts and assumptions that hung on my thoughts.
There's not much more to say except over the next few days we kept up the search and fielded phone calls.
Two days later we did find Cid. He was camping in the backyard of a neighbor two houses over. Panicked, hungry, and hiding under the house. Eventually, hunger pulled him to the front door where Fiance – my hero – quickly snagged him. Cid was hungry and wet, but fine. In fact, he seemed to be totally unaware of the harried, near frantic state the rest of us were in and after a meal of his everyday kibble he quickly went to bed.
The little asshole.
Roommate is in the clear. I understand it was a mistake. A colossal mistake that could shadow all of Rhodes. We’re fine, though. We’ve placed a new lock on the garage door as well just in case.
It’s raining out and Cid is chilling out on the counter behind me as I make some molten hot veggie cheese dip. A perfect food for when it’s murky outside with one of those tediously dreary April rains; one that I'm glad Cid isn't suffering through.
The dip is warm. Salty. Bright. Cid may sniff it out and ask for a nip. He doesn’t like people food of any kind with the exception of milk and canned tuna, the opposite of Eat Beast who will destroy everything. However, a salty bit of melty cheese is sometimes a rare exception to his finicky palate.
When it’s done I’ll give him a fingerful even though I shouldn’t because he’s an old cat and it’s probably not so good for his health. But it’ll make him happy and that makes me happy, and at this exact moment I think that’s what matters most to either of us.
Cheese and Spring Vegetable Dip
Note: My oven died halfway through the cooking and so it cooked for about triple the time at a far lower heat. The very pretty top that is normally dotted with asparagus tips and browned bits of goat cheese had to be folded back in as it started to burn, killing the otherwise fashionable appearance of this dip. The extended cooking time also resulted in the duller color of the veggies. Still, some mustard florets saved it kinda-sorta. Either way, it's cooked cheese and veggies and is delicious anyways. This recipe is rather hard to botch.
10 stalks of asparagus
1 cup chopped mustard greens
1. Chop the asparagus and set aside, reserving the tips. Preheat oven to 425F. In a sauce pot place the butter over medium-high heat. When melted add the leeks and cook for about 10 minutes or until the leeks are soft and take a bit of color.
2. Add the flour and whisk together until the mixture turns a soft beige color. Whisk in the milk and cook, scraping the bottom occasionally, until the mixture has thickened - about 5-8 minutes. Add the cheeses, salt and pepper, chopped asparagus (reserve the tips) artichoke hearts, greens, peas, herbs, and lemon zest.
3. Place the mixture in a baking dish. Dot the top with the goat cheese and asparagus tips. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve.