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.