Episode Fifty Three: Hiatus

 

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It was a tender moment. Gumption sat at my desk ready to have a tough conversation.  I’m protective to a fault and so for the past couple weeks, as I have prepared Gumption for her reunion with Virtute, I have avoided really talking about the underlying implication: that Gumption and I will no longer be living together.  Gumption has a bit of an unfair reputation about being slow to clue into things, perhaps that’s just because Virtute spends so much of his time thinking and scheming and plotting that the slow, holistic, and spatial way that Gumption processes things gets overlooked.  However, this process belies a lingering wisdom that makes Gumption so brilliant at her core.

To say that Gumption and I have a special bond would be an understatement.  For the past two years of her life we’ve been relatively inseparable. I’ve awoken numerous times because my knees have gone numb from propping up the blankets to make a tent for her to sleep under the sheets of my bed.  I’ve had long conversations with her in the morning about baseball and laser pointer technology and the elasticity of her newest bouncy balls.  But today our conversation was of a much more sombre nature.

“I am excited to see Virtute again, but I can’t remember his smell so good,” she said anxiously.  “What if he doesn’t remember me? What if he sees me as a threat? What if he … eats all of my kibbles?”  It’s hard for me to answer these questions since there’s no way to know how it’s going to go.  But her third question, the most important one, we think we’ve solved thanks to the chip implanted in her neck.  We talk about this and I tell her she’ll have to be brave enough to pass through the ring of her cat feeder and endure the mechanical sound of the door opening and closing if she’s going to get her kibble – but I believe in her.

“Why didn’t you talk about this move with me sooner?” she asks with a slight hurt in her voice.  Taking a cue from Drake’s “Controlla”, I respond, “I guess I didn’t want to “Jodeci ‘Cry for You'”.   She smiled. We’ve had a longstanding tradition of dropping Drake lyrics in our mundane conversations and this one felt…poignant.  “Well, I’m going to miss you a lot,” she continues brushing off my attempt at humour.  I try to explain that these are small blips in time/space and that we’d have a chance to spend lots of time together soon, but she stops me. “Hiatus,” she speaks in her most tender of trills.  “A hiatus of time and space: like the small difference in pitch between musical tones or cat trills; like the gaps between scratching post scratches to allow the scents to waft about; like the pigeon-like way I pluck my kibble one-by-one so that I have time to savour each morsel between bites. I work in the realm of hiatus. I’m ok with hiatus.”  Gumption was speaking truth. Underlying this truth, of course, is that I am the one who does not do so well in hiatus – instead I rely heavily on patterns and structures to make sense in the world. I’m the one who needs to be reassured.  She nuzzles her head against my chin, before quipping, “Yeah, I let that last line breathe, it take a second to get it.”

And so began our hiatus.

 

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Episode Fifty Two: Bionic

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This afternoon Gumption went into the vet to get microchipped. After a few weeks of discussion, Jenny and I decided that it was of foremost importance that Gummy and Toots be reunited. The problem was, with me starting a new job in Waterloo and Jenny balancing both school and work, trying to prevent Virtute from eating all of Gumption’s food needed to be addressed.  And that’s when we stumbled upon a cat feeder that opens and closes with a microchip.

Gumption and I had a lot of conversations about the dystopian scenario we were embarking on.  On the one hand, it is certainly creepy to have a microchip embedded into your body that can track your identity, whereabouts, and other things. On the other hand, Gumption was especially enthused about the possibilities of getting regular meals and eating at her own pace.  That’s something that she was lacking when she last lived with Virtute and one that had a deleterious effect on both cats’ mental and physical health.

After the insertion, I let Gumption nap in my bed as I tended to her and worked along side her.  At one point, she woke up and so I asked her how she was feeling, “I feel bionic,” she said fairly casually.  She’s a cat of few words, so I probed a little deeper. What makes you feel bionic, I asked curiously. She responded, “It’s not really like Robocop or other kinds of bionic half robots…it’s more like Christian Aguilera bionic.  The kind of feeling you have when you explore collaborating with electronics but really, deep down, you are always going to be better a capella.”  Poor Gummy. I asked her if she regretted that we got her microchipped.  “No,” she replied. “This is going to make Virtute so jealous! He’s always talking about how smart he is, like a computer. And now, I am actually part computer!”

And so began the start of our dystopian future…