Thursday, March 20, 2014
When I let Curt inside, he snickers and tells me he almost picked up some gravel just now on the way up the path. Every night for years Curt used to come to my parents' house after dark and throw pebbles at my window, and every night I crept downstairs and let him in. More than once he scaled the chimney and climbed in through my bedroom window, more than 20 years ago.
Curt sits down at the dining room table and strokes one of my mother's slim Siamese cats. They're mine now, along with the house, since my mother died last year. At first the cats stayed in my mother's room, just meowing and waiting for her return. Now they follow me around.
Curt's 6'4 and although it's something I love about him, I always forget just what a giant he is until he's up close. The ceiling is too low; he's too big for my flimsy chairs and wobbly dining table. He overwhelms the crowded, messy room. I love it.
He pets one of my mother's cats and tells me that in Australia his mother had a very large cat until recently. It was fond of preying on magpies, which are about the same size as cats. Even after the cat grew old and slowed down, it still chased the birds. But then one day it was devoured by magpies. First they picked out the cat's eyes, Curt says, and then they picked the rest of it clean.
Curt smiles at me awhile, massaging the neck of my mother's cat, whose blue eyes close with pleasure.
I experience his love most keenly when he punishes me; it's taken me some time to remember our routine, to remember that's why he's here. Nothing as pedestrian as physical violence or even sex. We start off gently, slowly. He is charming and attentive, a true gentleman. When he disappears, as cleanly as a soap bubble, I wait him out. Because when he reappears, he's always a step closer. Until he's inside my head.
A psychologist wrote somewhere that other people are only real for us when they are frustrating, which could explain why opposites attract, and why the divorce rate is so high. So I could excuse myself because I'm hardwired. I think of everything about him that drives me nuts—he's uncompromising, he's moody and judgmental, he's obsessive, dismissive, selfish, bombastic, unpredictable—and then I picture his face at it's most contemptuous. All I want then is to kiss him into submission, to make him laugh, or come, or love me.
The Australian Magpie is one of the few animal species able to recognize its own reflection in a mirror. No wonder it gouges out the eyes of its prey.