So my Favorite and I recently moved into new digs, and before we moved in, I did a bit of a cleansing ritual, to bless our new home. Now that we're, let's say, four-fifths unpacked, I thought it was time for a second ritual, so I pulled out the Feng-Shui (say, "fung sway") for Dummies and I did the Orange Peel Blessing. If you know me, it should come as no surprise to you that I'd do this kind of stuff. I'm the kind of person who believes in shifting the energy around them, whether it's with a deep breath, a sage smudge or a big change. My husband doesn't really go in for all of this, but he doesn't have to believe to benefit, and he's patient enough with me that I don't mind doing it alone.
All well and good, no biggie, lots of water sprinkling and chanting and flowers. Then, I sat down and started planning dinner.
So less than an hour after the ritual was finished, I'm sitting in the living room searching for a vegan sloppy joe recipe on the tablet (they were awesome), and a black-and-white cat walked in through my open front door.
What's interesting about this, besides the fact that we don't have a cat, is that we live on the third floor of a six-flat. Typical Chicago, but it's not a building that's super-open to wildlife. The cat came from someone else's home. It's not a building where everyone leaves their doors open, because it'd just be open to a hallway, you know, not anything special. My door just happened to be open because I'd opened it as a part of the blessing. Additionally, it was maybe six pm, so people were getting home from work and whatnot. Either they weren't at home, or they'd notice that their cat had scampered away.
I saw something move out of the corner of my eye, and I look over and there's this cat, green eyes, big pupils, two-tone coat, walking in like he'd come from the back bedroom. I half-expected him to say, "Jess, did you forget to fill the Britta pitcher again?"
"Hi," I said. He turned and continued walking into the living room.
I called out to my husband and told him that a cat had just wandered into our home. He seemed somewhat at ease, making his way into the dining room and through the kitchen, he went into the hall closet even, looking for something (a food dish? a litter box?). My husband came out of his office and we stared at the cat for a while.
I was completely flummoxed. I've seen cats before, I get cats, I like cats. But this one didn't have a collar, and I didn't know whom he belonged to. He was thin, not beat up or bald or sickly, but as he mewed, I noticed that he didn't have many teeth. Where had he come from? What did he want? What should we do?
If my husband tells you this story he'll tell you he was cool and I was confused. Don't you believe it. He seemed at a loss, just like me. My husband mewed at the cat and tried to get it to come toward him, out into the hallway, but the cat was not interested. He put some water out for the cat, who couldn't have cared less. He moved boxes around, trying to block access to various parts of the apartment, and they were somewhat successful. He knocked on doors, and I knocked on a couple more, looking for who might be the family for this cat.
The whole time I'm talking to the cat, I'm thinking, do you want to come and stay with us? Have you come here because you're looking for a family and we're it? Or are you lost? I've just done this blessing to rid our home of negative energy and bring blessings and luck to our family, and you're what walks through the door. Can you stay here? I mean, our lease says NO PETS, otherwise we'd probably be talking seriously about getting one. Do you know that? Have you come here because you want to live with us? Or are you just looking for your own home?
The cat looked confused, and sometimes ill at ease. He would sit in the floor for a while, mewing, and occasionally the tip of his tail trembled. When the neighbors came home with their dog, Tater, his ears started twitching and he began to hiss. What I couldn't do was ignore the cat. I couldn't just go back to dinner planning and Pandora radio like nothing had happened. Because this cat must have had a home, someone who would love it. But I didn't know how to help him get home. I didn't know if his home was this home, or another.
After about 15 minutes of trying to coax the cat back out our front door, and looking for someone in the building who owns it, we found its owner. Turns out, the cat's name is Buster, and he lives with a lovely woman on the first floor. I'm still not sure how it is he got out of her apartment. I wonder if he's a building cat that she takes care of.
That night, I dreamed of pets. Someone had left three puppies and a cat for my husband and me to care for, and we'd never had a bet before, so we had no leashes with which to walk the dogs. I went door-to-door, asking to borrow a leash for each puppy, when I finally had enough and managed to get the puppies wrangled into leashes, they didn't want to walk. Puppies don't really know how to go for walks, you know? They have to learn. There'd even been some indoor pooping, because they didn't know where they should go or not go.
I'm glad the lovely woman on the first floor came to get Buster. I wouldn't want either of them to be lonely for one another's company. But I do wonder what message, if any, Buster was bringing into our home. What drew him up to the third floor, and what would he have done if we'd just let him stay?
If Buster comes back, I'll be much more relaxed this time, because I know where his home is. Maybe I'll find out from him if he'd like to stay longer, or if he just wants to upset an afternoon's activity.