State your name, I say.
As always, What's-Her-Name makes no reply, just scurries into the kitchen through the open back door. It took her forever to decide to come in at all; What's-Her-Name often spends the night under the neighbors' porch, an odd choice for someone who has her pick of two couches and two easy chairs in our living room. But What's-Her-Name doesn't like to get too involved with us or with the house, especially these days, when she feels the season turning and knows she'll be spending the long winter months indoors with us.
Noodle is a cat of a different color. I wake in the night, a little frightened: it feels as if there were a heavy weight on my chest, something I can't afford to take casually. As a matter of fact, there is a heavy weight on my chest: it is Noodle, curled up on my sternum, fast asleep. She has migrated there from her other favorite place, between Q's feet.
Her purr is coming along nicely: she lets me stroke under her chin, practicing purring as we lie there in the dark. She came to us when she was really too young to leave her mother, and I think she considers us her parents. She is like a teenager, daring, eager, independent -- but still in need of a cuddle now and then. The stubborn self-sufficiency of What's-Her-Name is not for her.
Are you traveling this weekend? my daughter asks on the phone. It's a three-day weekend for Columbus Day, and both girls have Monday off. Vicariously, I feel liberated by their liberation.
Nope, I say. Thank God. I can and do get on the train and transfer at the airport and change in Charlotte, and then do it all again in reverse on the way home, but I'm not going to do that this weekend. I can be self-contained and independent like What-s-Her-Name. But I don't want to, not today. Today, I want to curl up like Noodle. Work on my purr, maybe.