Virtute the cat is always worried. He’s worried about the neighbourhood outdoor cat, Paw-Paws, coming to the door unexpected. He’s worried about protecting his cherished food bowl from Gumption’s hard diplomacy. He’s worried he might miss a chance to slip into our bedroom at night before the door closes and he’s unable to find a good place to cuddle. He talks a lot about his worries. Gumption uses the term ad nauseum and though it might sound like a hyperbole she very firmly will tell you to spend twenty four hours with Virtute and then let her know.
Lately, however, there’s one thing that Virtute has stop worrying about…tenure. It’s a word that carries a lot of significance in our household given my occupation. Trying to explain the difference between someone with tenure and someone who is tenure-track to family and friends who aren’t in the academy is a mildly confusing venture and Virtute is always happy to give a very detailed and erudite description, if you are willing to listen. But today, Virtute woke us up with great excitement. We’ve reached “tenuuuurre” he purred uncontrollably.
The whole house stirred as Virtute could be heard sprinting up and down the stairs yelling “ten-ure” “teennnn-ure”. I finally asked Virtute what all the fuss was about, and instead of giving me his usual dissertation-length explanation, he instead nudged me towards a row of 1.5 inch mylar crinkle balls and told me, “Count!”
I started counting out loud to the exhilaration of both Virtute who was anticipating the denouement of his thoughtful plan and Gumption who is just really into counting.
“3,4,5…”, I exclaimed.
“Keeeeep going”, Virtute’s purring was getting uncontrollable and he was starting to sound like the squeaky wheelbarrow known as Gumption.
“6,7,8,9….10. Ten. I repeated.” Virtute looked at my face with mild annoyance, “You don’t remember?” I was unsure where Virtute was going with this but tried to ask, “Who has tenure?” He responded tersely and rapidly, “WE HAVE TENURE. OUR FAMILY HAS TENURE.”
It all started to click, what Virtute was saying, wasn’t TENURE, it was TEN YEAR. And indeed it was true. Jenny and I and our furry friends become a family ten years ago on this day. Finally, satisfied with his celebration being understood. He told us it was time to tell him a story from memory lane…so I recounted this one:
It was a hot August day, a lot like today, back in 2008, when I met Jenny at her house for the very first time. She took me on a walk around Waterloo and it was like no walk I had ever been on before. It was like we were walking in two separate dimensions. I saw the run-down student housing, the stop signs, and the fading poster from an anti-poverty rally 2 years previously…but Jenny saw the same scene in a whole different light. She stopped to observe the sumacs growing on the side of the road, she dropped down to point out the Queen Anne’s Lace that was flourishing in a ditch. She heard birds, pointed out chipmunks, and generally brought the real-life of the city to life to me for the first time. She talked a lot about her love of animals, about wanting animal friends in her life…
Virtute was asleep purring his perfect little motor purr….So I stopped, but then quietly out of the next room. I heard…”and that is us. We are ten year.” It was Gumption, intently listening….and it was now her turn to let the neighbourhood know of our important feat. So yes, on this the final day of June in the year 2018, our family officially got ten year.