it was nearly summertime when i passed the stacked cages of kittens at the southern end of the union square greenmarket. the rescue group's volunteer turned to me as if we were reentering a conversation much older than our acquaintance: "you'd make a good mama," she said slowly and somehow regally, and i hurried into whole foods and let the frosty air shrink me until i was small enough to hide behind the pineapples and cry.
as when jude died, years ago, petfinder was how i reminded myself that mourning wasn't the only thing: so many cats needed homes, and if i found the one who was supposed to come home to us, joe and steve and i would know what to do with the feelings that had no place to go after chuck died. i found cats who looked just like steve did when he was a baby, hemingway cats with miraculous extra toes, cats whose shelter reports were barely believable as country songs. in june i found matty.
back in march i cancelled our trip to visit my sister in southern california to stay in new york city as chuck died. matty was born in southern california then—not too far from where i myself was born—and i can't tell you how good it felt to trade in those useless plane tickets last month and fly out to bring him home.
i think sometimes of how joseph campbell describes the psychological, pedagogical functions of myth—how it carries us through crises, and helps people 'grasp the unfolding of life with integrity.' we atheists are like caddisfly larvae when it comes to myth, boy; in the absence of a collective narrative, we'll build shit to protect ourselves out of anything. at a birthday brunch in downtown los angeles, my sister's friends blinked at me: "you know there are homeless cats in new york city too, right?" "what if someone said, 'we really want to adopt a kid who's norwegian'?"
matty's foster mom named him matisse, so we called him matty in the weeks between when she told us we could adopt him and when i flew out to meet them both. it became clear that we weren't going to be able to call him anything else—he just is a matty—so we started chewing on names. matthew barney? matthew arnold? mathlete? he was found skittering around a parking lot in anaheim, his foster had told me, so we named him the matterhorn. in my myth he was in this photo all along, waiting for us.