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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

my cat cleo

N-san, one of the chemical sales guys, told me my eyes were red. He has a high-pitched voice & always smells of tobacco, especially on rainy days. I put two drops in each & told him I didn't understand what he was saying. I said, in Japanese, to "please be kind to me in the future," which is a kind way of saying thanks for now, see you later.

I just got back from the toilet where I sat & cried for 10 minutes thinking how sad I felt yet remembering how happy I was to remember all the great memories that Cleo & I spent together.

I found her about 10 years ago in Hollywood. I was visiting my girlfriend, M-, at the time. She lived in a run-down area of L.A., but isn't most L.A. run down? I heard a loud meowing & up she came all crying & rubbing against my leg, the skinny little rat.

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(Dr. O- keeps looking at my computer. I can't concentrate.)

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(I just wrote out a sketch for my first book. I will call it "When We Were Young.")

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Back to Cleo, I remember how D-, my old 90-year-old landlady in Redondo Beach, saw Cleo in the window. She called me up at work & told me I had to get rid of her. I started looking. Then a week later D- came into my apartment to let the plumber in, & she called me & said she fell in love with Cleo, & that I could keep her so long as it was "our little secret." I stayed in Redondo Beach for a year, long enough for Cleo to tear up the curtains & my old love seat I brought from Georgia.

I left the old love seat outside in the trash when I left for Hollywood. I wanted to be closer to my new job at Disney & also to my girlfriend, M-. I moved into the apartment directly across the hall from hers, where she lived with her Mom, Dad & two sisters. Of course I brought Cleo.

Cleo & I lived there for nearly three years, long enough for M- & I to break up & for me to fall in love with a drug addict. Cleo was there for it all. Finally I had to leave town & brought Cleo with me on our cross-country journey.

It took us three days & she would not piss or shit once. She cried for two and a half hours, long enough to get out of California. But once we made it to Arizona, she started to relax. It was there, driving at night, that I had my greatest spiritual awakening. Cleo was there for that. And in New Mexico, while I stood outside & stared at the stars, holding her leash, waiting for her to do what she would not do, I thought about how alone I was at that moment & got back in the car, afraid of being exposed to all those stars.

We also stopped in Texas on that hot afternoon where I tied her to a tree & watched a guy mow his lawn. I was burning up.

We made it to Mississippi on a Friday night & watched people come & go from the convenience store, buying lottery tickets, alcohol, condoms, headed to the casino nearby.

We made it to Georgia, to the house I grew up in, where I explored the woods, fished in the creek, & where Cleo was able to start a new life.

Mom tells me she's dying. Her teats are swollen with cancer & she will not eat. She is lying under my bedroom window, strangely on the spot where my old cat Rusty was buried 25 years ago. She will die any minute now.

I don't know how it's possible to be happy & sad at the same time, but I am. I mean, I'm sad because I won't be able to see her when I go back in two months. I wasn't able to say goodbye. She always remembers me. For the last ten years she has always been there, somewhere, in me. Now I must let her go. But I'm happy she was able to live in the woods the last six years, to have kittens, to chase opossums & squirrels, to live out her days. I'm happy for that.

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