I’m sitting on the floor petting 50 percent of the cats that live with me and wondering when I’m going to die. There’s something I’ve been thinking about that makes my heart do the panic-beat thing where it feels like it’s going to rip out of my chest. I thought I’d share that thing with as many people as I could.
In the time it takes to age 5 consecutive wheels of parmesan cheese or in the time it takes for one can of mixed vegetables to expire, your life could move from where it is now to somewhere completely unrecognizable.
When I adopted Moira from the shelter, I intended to have her until one of us didn’t exist anymore. She was young and I was depressed, so it was really anyone’s race. I didn’t really think of what having this cat meant though, and I did not think of time in a practical sense. For something we measure with such precision and exhaustion, it’s easy to think of time as an abstraction rather than something you can plan for.
My last family cat lived until she was probably around 14. I saw a picture on Twitter of a cat was its 30s–and he looked exactly like a cat midway through the equivalent of its second century. I have a mechanical pencil from when I was in 6th grade, and this morning I noticed a little scar I got as a kid when my brother threw a pair of scissors into my ankle like a psychopath.
The connection between my cats and pencil and the unnatural crease in my skin where scissors once flopped from my juice ankle meat is that all of these things have existed or will exist a lot longer than I expected them to. I adopted Moira when I was a shitty undergrad living in a hovel and eating rice with beans and steamed broccoli that I called “Nutrition Meal #1.” Moira is currently begging for food in an apartment I couldn’t have imagined because I never thought someone would like me and live with me on purpose. I am also a better cook now.
What I realized this morning is that, like the toilet of an underfunded Taco Bell, time is rapidly draining away and leaving strange evidence behind. If I have a completely different job in a few years, these kitties are going to know. If my partner and I decide to buy a boat, these cats are going to be wearing little life vests and learning to tie knots while singing ABBA. I’ve had a plastic giraffe on my desk since 2014, and if I have Rory for another 4 years, then maybe she’ll see me grade my last papers before I completely lose my mind from having to write the rule against comma splices again.
So I’m still on the floor. I don’t know how long I’ll be here. 50 percent of my cats are nearby, and she will get some pets, and then I’ll probably get up so everything can keep happening.