I have been re-reading Brideshead Revisited. Please forgive me.
The languid days of summer have too quickly concluded, and but for the tan, I would believe it all a dream. A beautiful dream. In my past notes on the season, I failed to note the splendor with which the heads of cabbage gave way to mounds, piled high, of bright green watermelon, succulent honeydew, cantaloupe, and fruits I had no name for. The pitted fruits took the place of the short seasoned strawberries and even then, cherries and apricots gave way to peaches and the peaches now to plums with their purple shades beckoning fall, a wonderful trick of evolution to capture the fading spectrum of sunlight as the days get shorter and shorter.
It was recently in conversation with my friend Kyle, that I suddenly became more aware of time. Not just of the quickening fall, but also of my time in Albania. I realized that, even throughout the summer, I had looked on things in sections of time. Chapters of events isolated, closed off and only demarcated by the dizzying activities that filled each one. I had just closed one more chapter.
In the halcyon days of late August, Russell came to visit. Both of us were ignorant of what the region held, and so became voracious, holiday tourists consuming all the Balkans had to offer. We were explorers and each day whether it was in Kotor, Dubrovnik, Sarajevo or Prizren, was filled with adventures. We climbed the castle walls of ancient citadels, conquering fortresses once garrisoned by Roman and Turkish soldiers, and now, transient internationals; denizens of hotels, hostels and passing cruise ships. One particularly proud moment was a 2 hour kayaking trip on the choppy seas around the island of Lokrum. Battered by the waves, there was one particular point, a narrow pass through sharp cliff sides, where I felt like Odysseus on alert of the monsters, Scylla and Charybdis.
At the end of Russell’s stay, when we had exhausted ourselves, we returned to Elbasan and but for a short trip to Pogradec, spent the days lounging in the sun, enjoying cold beers and decent wines. It was splendid. How I thought, “If only it could always be like this, ‘always summer, the fruit always ripe’ and not a care in the world.”
I said goodbye to my friend, and goodbye to the free, long summer days. The new, near final chapter has begun, filled with a frenzy of work activities and projects. New youth council, public speaking courses, human rights presentations. . . and while the vigor of the new challenges and learning opportunities excites me, in the recess of my mind, I am nostalgic and melancholy for simplicity and an aesthetic education. Like Charles Ryder, on arrival at Oxford, and throughout his life, perhaps I too am searching to learn about Beauty or Love. Are the answers in a chapter yet un-lived or is the opportunity to find it fading with the sun?
The nights are chilly now in Elbasan. Winter is coming.
If you have been following, this blog you will be familiar with the tale of a random cat giving birth to kittens in the dead of night in my underwear drawer. How overtime I grudgingly became a cat person, and most recently how that affection was betrayed overnight by the treachery of Cat.
Now the final chapter in this Cat saga.
The facts as I interpret and remember them are these. Shortly after giving birth Cat left with the kittens, and despite my small attempts to stop her, she was determined. There had been a few break-ins, other cats jumping in through the window, and the skirmishes must have left her squeamish. I never would have thought that of Cat. She seemed the fighter, however, she left.
But then she came back with all three kittens. Oh what a happy moment that was, because let’s face it, they were adorable. Oh fickle and changeable creature, because a week later she left again.
A week went by, and the hellcat came back to the house to feed. I wanted to deny her, but then had to remind myself that I was going to get rid of the kittens once they were of age and it is Cat’s prerogative to do what she wills and I still had a bag of cat food that needed doing with, so…I fed her.
Then she left one day and came back with one of the kittens, by now about 6 weeks – 8 weeks old (I have no idea what the particulars are regarding the other two. One can assume but it’s better not to know). Eventually I called him Norman, and soon I will explain why. Norman and Cat lived in the house for a few weeks, and against better judgment, I started to get attached to Norman because he was the best kitty you could ever imagine. When he played he didn’t use his claws, he hardly meowed, and was rarely annoying. Only once did he poop on something he shouldn’t have, which is more than I can say of most people I know.
And then Cat took him away…but then brought him back to the roof top, where I climbed to feed him. Then she took him away again. This seemed to be some cruel game and while I was its intended target, it was Norman who really got hurt. She turned possessive and cruel and when clearly he wanted to end the ruse and settle in with me, she pulled a Norma Bates and twisted him up inside. Poor fellow. He never stood a chance. The last I saw Norman, we were separated by an abyss of rooftops, too far away for me to bring him in when he called out. Heaven knows Cat was probably watching, laughing, somewhere in the shadows. The bitch.
I still see her. She passes through the patio though never coming in. One time I tried to pet her and the trollop took a swipe at me.
I never wanted Cat and yet she weaseled her way into my home. Over a year I came to care for her and wasted my time, regard and affection on a heartless guttersnipe. Was I being used the whole, time? Was there ever affection on the part of Cat? What was the past year? I thought once, during a golden moment in our coexistence, “Maybe this is it? To find someone with whom you can feel happy and comfortable.” As simple as that. Now I think it was all a lie and I was fooling myself from the beginning.
I will never let a cat into my life again.