The Mitten came into my house nine years ago, the last addition in a collection of various roommates which included two other cats, a big old dog, and an adult human male. She was a mere kitten, and she accepted her ranking with grace and dignity, hardly ever asking for anything. She knew that the matriarch and the prince would tolerate her but never adore her, and the human members of the pack were too preoccupied with their own crap to carve out time for the self-sufficient kitty. She befriended the old dog, who begrudgingly shared crumbs from her treats and allowed her a space next to her while the humans were eating dinner. She purred through it all and never defied the order of things.
The dog was the first to go, and although The Mitten retained her lonely spot on the floor next to the dinner table, she also tried to make friends with the matriarch and the prince. They formed a furry alliance, teaching each other certain tricks, such as positioning oneself upside-down on a hot day, or sleeping in such a way that makes one more closely resemble a chicken drumstick than a cat.
In the course of two turbulent years, The Mitten lost both of her feline companions, not to mention some human ones. Suddenly, I was all she had left. She now understands exactly what she needs to do to coerce this remaining human to pet her, give her a treat, brush her, play with her, sprinkle some catnip on the floor, donate lap space, or just leave her the heck alone. And, of course, this human indulges her every whim. I do anything I can to be everything to her.
The girlish side of me has always wanted to be somebody’s everything. I’ve always dreamed of being that perfect partner, making my lover smile just at the sight of me. He’d know, no matter how rotten his day was, that everything was about to get better as soon as he walked in the door because I was there to kiss him and welcome him home. I’d make dinner and we’d catch up on the past eight hours and then we’d just enjoy being under the same roof for the evening, comfortably close, no words needed.
Suffice it to say I’ve since learned that, at least for me, such a situation does not exist in real life. People don't work together that way, no matter now appealing it sounds. It seems that men see me as a giant pain in the arse, the one who stands in the way of their happiness, resenting me for merely being alive. Kindness is interpreted as an expectation of reciprocity rather than an expression of love. A necessary evil, I am. That's fair, I suppose. I am a bit difficult. So I stopped hoping for that fairy-tale relationship and learned to be grateful simply to get a goodnight kiss at the end of the day.
But, to The Mitten, I am everything now. Everyone she had in this world is gone, except for me. I can hear her meowing for me before I even unlock the door when I get home from work, and as soon as I step inside, all she wants is a little love. The sight of me after eight hours is the happiest part of her day. She gets so excited for whatever I feed her for dinner, which is usually nothing more than kibble. She purrs like a diesel engine when I offer her my lap to curl up on at the end of the day. It’s actually kind of humbling. I must admit, it’s not exactly the partnership I was expecting to accompany me through life, but I feel rewarded just the same. I am her everything, and, in a way, it’s everything I’ve always wanted.