A friend with benefits.

I have a friend. I have (incredibly) a number of friends, but the name of the one I’m thinking of is Maggie. We haven’t been friends for very long, but she spends many evenings with me. She walks into my flat without so much as a by-your-leave, and makes very firm suggestions as to how we should spend the evening. She doesn’t think about whether I might be tired, or planning to go out, or wanting an early night or a quiet, solitary evening. And she leaves when she’s hungry, or when she’s finished with me.

This would be extremely annoying but for the fact that my friend Maggie is a cat. A beautiful, snub-nosed, grumpy-faced and very loving Burmese who is all the colours of a cloud, from storm-grey right through to sunset-roan. And we might be of different species, but we love each other.

Maggie has a fairly set routine when she arrives in my flat. First we play the string game, or the catch-the-bright-pink-piece-of-plastic game. Then we play the human-chasing-the-cat game, and then when the human catches the cat we have cuddles, and she purrs. Then she goes to sleep on my lounge, or on my lap, and I go back to my evening.

Often the last thing I feel like is playing, especially during a week like this one where it’s as much as I can do to raise the energy to do all the things that I need to do, let alone pointless things like chasing a cat three metres across a room. But I do it, because the alternative is that she annoys me (Come on, it’s string game time! Why aren’t we playing the string game? Aren’t you ready to chase me yet? What are you doing?). And despite the fact that my to-do list is sometimes taller than I am, despite my fatigue or my crap mood, I normally find myself laughing. I normally find myself enjoying the time together. I normally find myself having fun – something that’s actually quite a rare commodity in my serious and rich life. And I generally find myself going back to what I was supposed to be doing, just slightly renewed for the experience.

Ok, so the Universe organised me a cat to enrich my life, to teach me joy and to aid in my healing. Not quite what I expected – but absolutely and exactly what I needed.

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