kittensDespite over salting the lamb, my friend date went well. The reason the friend date happened in the first place is because we have a lot of similar interests and goals – so a night of talking about writing, books, and our somewhat impossible hopes and aspirations was surprisingly comfortable and effortless. And the wine helped. We’re even going to do it again sometime.

But – after the leftovers were put away and dishes were rinsed but left in the sink, after I had crawled into bed and fallen asleep, I started hearing these noises. Around two in the morning, I woke up to something but was too sleepy to place what it was. Over the next few hours it kept happening until around four when I blinked mostly awake and recognized what the sound was: kittens crying in the night.

I went over to the window (where Ripley was already investigating the situation from the comfort of her office) and there they were – three very upset mewing kittens sitting on the sidewalk across the street, and only a few nights after my eagle scientist dream filled with kittens in need.

I didn’t know what to do – I didn’t know why they were upset or what their situation was. Where they abandoned, either by their mother or by some human? Were they healthy? Were they friendly? If I saved them, where would I save them to?

I called Ben, who is away in Florida this week covering the IFL Championships. Even though he was, of course, mostly asleep, he urged me not to save the kittens as it would be a danger to Ripley and maybe myself and because it was the middle of the night in New York. I could call someone about it in the morning. And of course he was right.

But I got back into bed and couldn’t sleep with all of the continued mewing and general kitten excitement. I got up, threw on some clothes and walked outside. As soon as I took a step toward them the little guys scattered in three directions, a little older than I thought they were and thin as lines. There was clearly no way that I could save them even if I wanted to. I got back into bed and the mewing started about five minutes later. I couldn’t fall back to sleep for the rest of the night.

This morning on my way to work there was no sign of them.

I have the same helpless feeling that I did in my dream a few nights ago – just that the world is too complicated to run around saving things in any sort of simple way and that saving or not saving something has so much selfishness in it however you look at it.

I remember way back to this time in Grinnell when I was living in a big, old house on Broad Street. My boyfriend had graduated that spring (along with most of my friends) and had moved to Chicago the day before, leaving me a lonely mess. I was crying in my big white empty bed that night and looked up to see a big white stray tom cat staring at me from my window. I opened the window and the cat jumped onto my bed. I was so, so, instantly happy and as I petted him I was thinking about how he was a sign or symbol or something. About an hour later I noticed that both the big white cat and my big white bed were crawling in fleas – dozens and dozens of black dots disappearing and reappearing as they jumped.

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