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On Missing Mudpie

Jessica Gentile has a lovely essay at The Morning News about missing her dearly departed childhood pet, a cat named Mudpie, and how she’s consoled herself with famous internet cats and an adorable visit to the 32nd Annual Westchester County Cat Show (psst: there is a cat with glasses!).

It is also, in its way, about home, and being in that in-between place of your 20s where you’ve left home but don’t really have a home of your own yet.

I’m between jobs and between living arrangements—the timelines for both seem rather nebulous. I’m like millions of other kids born, raised, and thrown into an economically desolate landscape—a recent liberal arts grad with a degree in a subject that I’m told is not only useless, but oxymoronic: American Culture. Hours have turned to days turned to months as I’ve deluged the inboxes of publishers with my paltry resume. It’s gotten to the point where form rejection letters are considered a victory—at least my failings are acknowledged. I lapsed into depression and insomnia. Without a pet or a prospect or even a true home, my life’s most pleasant diversion remains confined to a YouTube-sized box on a screen, watching shadows of my former friend’s spirit.

Mudpie lived the last of her days huddled in a basket of blankets in the basement closet at my parents’ house. I lived those days bouncing between that house in the suburbs, friends’ apartments in Brooklyn, and a boy’s bedroom in New Jersey. It was a tri-state area Bermuda Triangle of impermanence, easy to fall into but hard to escape. It was the cat that kept me coming home. Amid sporadic temp work and mounds of student debt, her ferocity was a source of constant comfort and I needed her savage presence now more than ever.

My parents have moved a handful of times since I left for college, but there was something about seeing the family dog that made it still feel like coming home. Without her, visiting my mom feels like just that: visiting.

Photo: thisgeekredes


10 Comments / Post A Comment

Stina (#686)

I remember when I would come home the dog would be overjoyed, rapturous even, from seeing me, but the cat would walk up to me but pointedly not look at me going “Oh what? Oh is there someone here? Nope. Don’t seem to remember you.” And I’d have to spend at least a day trying to make it up to her before petting could begin.

Side note: We are in the midst of adopting a cat and while rational me is thinking “The shelter is checking you out, they shouldn’t just randomly hand over cats. You’ll get a glowing review from your reference, and then the kitty can move in.” But emotional me is just like “KITTEH! WANT KITTEH!”

TheDilettantista (#1,255)

Home is where the cat is. About two months after my then-boyfriend-now-pre-husband moved in together we finally took the *real* plunge and got a kitten. That is when our (rental) townhome truly felt like a real home–when we got our Dexter (who is my thumbnail yes I am crazy), and then it felt like a double home about a year later when we adopted our other black cat (then a tiny yowly baby) named Minion.

Despite my best daily efforts the litter boxes always smell and Minion is the talkiest cat ever who has now taken to chewing paperbacks (but just the ones by Ayn Rand, he is smart), but I wouldn’t trade that furry kitties for the world. I am currently trying to figure out non-cheesy ways to incorporate them into the wedding. A) Bringing pets to the wedding is not my thing and B) The wedding is out of state so not an option anyways.

Pre-husband and I are crazy cat people and we have zero shame about it.

Bonnie St. Clair (#2,949)

@TheDilettantista Are customized ‘couple + cats’ wedding cake toppers a thing? I’m sure there are bigger ways to incorporate cats into a wedding, but that’s what came to mind first and it’s striking me as totes adorbs.

TheDilettantista (#1,255)

@TheDilettantista I am sure they are but we are not doing a cake (other than a token tiny cake for us to cut) because I have not once had a delicious wedding cake and I’d rather have an ice cream sundae bar because ice cream > stupid cake.

@TheDilettantista Ooh! ooh! So I had this idea for our wedding but didn’t end up implementing it. You could take pictures of your cats, blow them up to life size, and affix them to a form background, and then they can be in the pictures with you :) Incredibly cheesy, yes.

Meaghano (#529)

@TheDilettantista maybe something cute to do with the place settings / table numbers? if you’re having them. ooh, or name cocktails after them! ha

Bonnie St. Clair (#2,949)

Should’ve known this would make me tear up at my desk. My family still has 2 cats that we got when I was a kid, and they’re both so old now. I love getting to see them but it also makes me sad to see how feeble they’re getting. They were my buddies during some sad stuff that happened in my family during my childhood, so I would like them to live forever, please and thanks.

Also, on the topic of cat shows, my girlfriend and I had hoped we would be able to travel to a “Hillbilly Cat Show” that’s going to be held in east Tennesee this weekend, but then we realized it wouldn’t work with our schedules. So. Disappointed. Just imagine a hillbilly cat show!

Meaghano (#529)

@Bonnie St. Clair I am HUGELY disappointed on your behalf. omg that sounds amazing.

sherlock (#3,599)

Oh, man. This Thanksgiving is going to be my first trip back to my parent’s house since our family cat died. I am expecting it to be very disconcerting and sad, sleeping in my old bed but without the cat curled up in it.

muush (#521)

“…there was something about seeing the family dog that made it still feel like coming home. Without her, visiting my mom feels like just that: visiting.”

I 100% relate to this.

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