The thing about going back to work, after spending eight months in Cancerland, is that you don’t really give a sh*t. My job is not rocket science. I’m not saving lives. So it hardly matters to me if a set of curtains is ten inches too short.
These day, a big part of my job is faking concern. In the morning we go over all the stuff we need to find in order to make things look turn-of-the-century. At meetings I nod and make all the proper gurgling noises that make it sound like I’m in agreement. But I’m not really listening. I don’t care about decorating a TV show. Instead, I’m thinking about the nutritional value of fiddleheads (excellent!) and if I’ve remembered to take my Tamoxafin (oops).
But last week I made my list of things to do and head out into the world. First stop was a shop that specializes in salvaged architectural items. I walk in the store and because my brain is so mushy, check my list to remember why I’m there. Wall sconces! Yes! So I corral the owner and we head down to the basement.
The owner, Roy, is busily chatting sbout carriage lights, copper lining, and blabbity blah, blah blah blah. While I tune him out, I tune in to two little food bowls in the corner, as well as a small blanket. Roy’s now holding up a wrought iron lantern but I’ve stopped paying attention. ‘Hey Roy, what’s with the bowls?’
He explains to me that he took in a stray cat. The cat, which is apparently scared and scraggly, stays hidden in the dark basement. Knowing that there is a frightened creature nearby, I try to send out some positive nurturing energy. The fact that I’m not really a cat person isn’t important. I just found a little breathing creature infinitely more interest that a pair of sconces. Especially since Roy's lights were overpriced, not of the right time period, and need to be rewired.
Unable to make a decision, I leave the shop and go back to the office to discuss the set. ‘Are these lights the best options?’ asks the designer. Hardly. They’re totally cheesey, oversized, and my even be made of plastic (circa 1972). But I hear myself saying that, ‘Absolutely the best option in the entire city We must have them!’
The next day I got to pick up the lights. With a million things on my list, I should be rushing, but I head down to the basement and spend a little time walking around seeing if I can find mangey cat. Because I’m on my own I chat with the cat, and tell him that everything is going to be okay. On behalf of Belleruth, I try to summon up a few magical friends and secret protectors to send his way. Roy comes downstairs and I ask him is he’s going to keep the cat forever. Roy nods solemnly, ‘Yeah. He’s my cat now. I’ll take care of him’.
I am glad there are people like Roy, and feeling like that my task is complete, I leave the store. Of course my task wasn't complete. There was no note saying, ‘Check on cat’. My note said ‘pick up the sconces’. Which I didn’t, because I forgot.
So this morning I went back and picked up the sconces. I went to the cash on the main level where the scones were boxed, and waiting. Roy was writing up the invoice when I hear a little mew. I looked around but saw nothing. Then I heard it again. I turned around and under a roll top desk (circa 1911) was a scrawny black and white cat. He was hunched down on all fours and was staring at me. I felt a ball in my chest that in any other environment could have been a sob. ‘He came upstairs!’ I said to Roy, trying not to cry. Roy smiled, and said ‘Yeah, and he almost let me pet him.’
Back in my car, I looked down at my ‘to do list’ and there wasn’t a check mark in sight. I pondered quitting. Professionally, I'm probably in the wrong place. But at least a little cat was in the right one.