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.