This is not being mentioned trivially because I'm judging him. Who am I to say how someone should live their own life? I only bring this up because he owns a cat, which I see outside our apartment at all times of the day and night. My thinking is that this cat roams around outside for most of its summer life because it may be forgotten or neglected by its intoxicated owner. Or maybe it's not, seeing as cats run wild here and the felines have their own daily and nightly dramas that play out on the street. (Last month, I awoke at 3am to a cat wailing. I stepped onto my balcony in my boxers and see it just laying there in the middle of the street, crying out into the night, while another cat stood next to it. I couldn't tell if it had just been hit by a car or had a train run upon it by the creepy cat standing beside it. I clapped my hands loudly and the sound reverberated down the empty street. The lurking cat looked up at me in a guilty way. I clapped again and louder it started to slink away cautiously. The other cat eventually stood up and disappeared into a bush.)
I'm not a cat guy at all and I'm not overly sympathetic when it comes to pets, but I've really grown fond of my neighbour's tabby. It's white in colour, with spots of grey and beige and if I had to guess, I would say it's spent 80 percent of this summer outside of its home. The only times I don't see it outdoors coincides with the time that the neighbour's daughter comes to visit him. My roommates and I have surmised that this cat probably belongs to his daughter.
Last night, I returned home from a friend's show and found the cat lying on the top step. This is its preferred resting place. I walked up the stairs and it didn't even move and barely acknowledged me. I sat on my top step and pet it for about five to ten minutes until it stood up, wandered down two stairs, looked at me sideways and then walked down the rest of the stairs and slid down under a car and was gone. I fished out my key, slid it into the lock and walked up the stairs into the apartment.
I went to bed and thought about the cat and how unaffected and almost divine it was as I pet it. It would blink slowly and it only turned to look at me as it walked away. It was then that a funny thought popped through my head: what if the cat was god?
What if this cat, which I've seen splayed out on the other neighbour's balcony, on window ledges and in trees, was watching me and judging my character? What kind of conclusions would it have drawn about me? What would it have seen?
I thought back to the various dozens -- or maybe even hundreds -- of times I'd seen it on the steps or on the sidewalk below our stairs and what I'd done. I think it would be safe to say that about 50 percent of the times I'd seen it, I was busy on my way to work or rushing off somewhere else and I barely paid it a passing glance. Maybe a "hey kitty," or quick rub from its ears to its back as I fit my headphones into my ears and tucked my shoelaces into my shoes and before walking away.
God would say I'm not very organized and not good with time-management.
A few other times, I'd seen the cat in some pretty dicey locations, like on a tree branch 10 feet off the ground, or on a ledge 6 feet from the top of our stairs on a second floor window. It would look at me as if it needed some help and I would reach out but not be able to get to it. Then I would pull out my phone, realize I was running late for work and figure, 'well, this cat got itself here somehow, so I'm sure it can get itself back to safety. I mean, they're cats and cats are freakishly agile.' I'd give it one last sympathetic look and then head off to work.
God would say that when I'm presented with a problem, many times I'm not willing to work sufficiently hard and sacrifice enough to solve it.
In a handful of instances, I've seen the cat laying up on the step below my neighbour's door, craning its neck upward to try to see if the neighbour was coming to open the door. It would look hungry or tired or thirsty and it would seem like it wanted to go inside and take a nap. Once or twice, the fur on its back would be knotted and clumped, like it hadn't been combed or groomed in a week. It would let out a few agitated meows. Unless I had to piss, I'd sit there and pet it for a couple minutes and if it really looked thirsty, I'd bring out a bowl of water. The cat would typically walk under my outstretched hand and I'd lower it and it'd keep walking until its tail passed under my hand and then it would turn around and do it again. When I would get up to go inside, it would look at me enviously. On the occasions I brought out the bowl, I'd put it beside my door and try to convince the cat to drink from it, but it wouldn't trust me for whatever reason and it would usually walk down the stairs and then under a car.
God would say that I tend to notice when things are wrong, but I either don't have the time or don't know the correct course of action to make things right.
The interactions with the cat these last three months really don't paint a pleasant picture of myself and I realize that my daily encounters with this pet showcase a general pattern of actions and behavior that were playing out in the rest of my life. This summer wasn't easy, for reasons I didn't really understand until I sat there stroking the cat in the dark, rubbing it behind its ears, while car horns and sirens echoed down my street as they maneuvered through the city scape.
Last night, I spent a lot of time with the cat, stroking and petting it until it had enough and went away. Perhaps it was surprised by this show of attention and affection because it's something I haven't demonstrated in the past three months. Maybe that's why it looked at me suspiciously as it descended the stairs. Maybe it had to go under the car to reevaluate its opinion of me.
God would say I'm starting to understand things a little better.
(Note: All characters in this post are fictional, except myself, the neighbour and the cat. *Rimshot*)