First, let me set the scene. Usually around midnight the cats and I get into a pretty big discussion about if we should watch an episode of Twin Peaks before going to sleep.
It’s one of the greatest things about being an adult, the complete freedom to fall asleep to anything you’d like at the end of the day. Or watching reruns of your favorite TV show for years on end without anyone complaining. Or getting to eat more than three cookies for dessert because no one is around to question your decisions. Adulthood, pretty sweet.
In New York, my bed is the size of a shoe box. To put it in perspective, if a group of Swedish teenagers visited my room, they would probably say, “I used to have that Ikea bed … when I was 11!” What D-bags, am I right?
So my nights usually entail a bit of jostling to fit myself and two cats into Thumbelina’s bed, and after a beat, the questions start rolling in like sheep jumping over a fence. For those of you who have never participated, this is how a typical cat therapy session plays out:
Me: Fitz, Fitz, are you asleep? Do you miss home? Hem, do you miss L.A. and that one really fat squirrel who liked to hangout around our apartment? Do you ever think we shouldn’t have moved? Today I really, really missed home. Like more than I miss just wearing one sweater on walks. I started to get nervous this place would never feel like home, or we wouldn’t be able to stay here for more than a year. I really want to stay here for a while. Also, do you think I look weird wearing contacts? People keep commenting on it and I don’t know how to take it. Are soul mates real?
Fitz: [Expels a single grunt that either means, “Please for the love of chicken, let me go to sleep,” or “Mum, when you look back in a year, is this something that you’ll regret wasting so much time and stress over?”]
Hem: [With a meow that sounds like you put a cat in a box and opened it, “You should just approach life like me, running around without a care in the world and sitting on top of the kitchen cabinets when you want a moment alone.”]
I’ll admit, they’re pretty exceptional therapists.
Even at times when I’m talking with my cats about life purpose and learning how to be a do-er instead of a dreamer, I realize how ridiculous it probably looks. Like if someone walked by my room and peeked in, they would first off, be a creep for just waltzing into my house unannounced, and second, think to themselves, This is what Ms. Rochester must have been like before they locked her in the attic (Can I get a high five for a solid Jane Eyre reference, HEYO!) But I can’t help it, sometimes just saying things out loud and then receiving a reassuring cat cuddle is the only way to remind myself that I’m in control of my own stress level.
Having my cats as my therapists does come with some drawbacks. For starters, six times out of ten they’ll fall asleep halfway through my story and then try and bite me when wake them up. Their attention span is real short and they’re always distracted by the possibility of food. They don’t feel any sense of remorse when they put their paws on my face as though to say, “Please, stop talking.” If they get tired of my story, they leave to go break something in the kitchen. And usually the cats’ advice is simply to nap it out. Then they demonstrate how the nap works and are out of office for the rest of day.
It’s true that everyone in New York has a therapist, so I feel even more lucky that mine accept compensation in cat food and are on call 24 hours a day. Cat lady for life!