BreakingIn

BreakingIn
"At least I was used to them."

Our new cat slinks around the place like a sneak thief or spy. I fancy that I understand why, for I, myself, never qualified as resilient when encountering change. I tell myself, and rather over-proudly, that I carry an extreme form of context sensitivity such that I become a very different person when I'm immersed into a different place. I could be the poster child for Heraclitus' old saw about the same old thing being different in different places. As a child, when press-ganged into visiting my aunt's family in Southern California, I'd usually hold out for two or three days before finally consenting to eat anything there. Even familiar old milk tasted different, and not better different. I could even hold out on using the bathroom until my parents would finally resort to force feeding me into restarting my essential life systems. I empathize with the new cat. How utterly strange everything must seem to him.

We imagine that holding him will soothe him rather than ourselves, but he flees behind the couch when unattended, batting idly at curtain strings, peeking around the corner until we sing out another intended-to-be welcoming greeting.
He's having none of that. He's a cat, and a recently feral one at that, and he's early in the process of unlearning how disappointing humans can be. He's in charge. The Grand Otter stayed up all night reassuring him with videos. I swiped him just before dawn, wanting to reintroduce him to his disappointingly still pristine litter box and the supper he last night refused to acknowledge. A day or two and I suspect that he'll manage to claim his space and begin wandering upright through the place, but probably not today and only maybe tomorrow.

I never understood what flipped inside me, allowing me to eat supper with my extended family again when on vacation. A few days and the strangeness of the place started feeling familiar. Even I would prove adaptable. Returning home again, I took another few days to find my keel there, too. Even today, I turn rather wooden for the first couple of days after we relocate. Before I settle in, I become machine-like, uninterested in any life supporting intrusion. Meals won't find me hungry. Sleep will seem uninteresting. I feel genuinely suspended, finding refuge in some book I brought along to distract me from the worst of the experience. I see that same tenaciously non-adaptive pattern emerge for me on larger and longer scales, too. Rather than integrate into a different place, I tend to isolate. I spend long days alone, roaming around and disoriented. I won't meet new people but shun those opportunities. I will feel every bit alone and all by myself, almost bereft. I've spent years of my life in that state.

By now, I exhibit little understanding of whether I'm coming or going, here or there. I can feel that sense of isolated disorientation anywhere, even here, in my titular home. I can feel all alone anywhere without prejudice or posturing. The milk might taste funny wherever I find it, so I imagine that I deeply understand the work our new kitten undertakes here. I might insist, but he will most certainly resist until he simply doesn't anymore. I figure that those who promote strategies for increasing resilience have never experienced the sort of reticence that some of us quite naturally exhibit. Who would I have to become to so casually assimilate change? I'm not actively resisting change, but perhaps merely more fully acknowledging and experiencing it. I'm less fearful of change than leery of its presumed beneficial influence. Even when change improved my lot, I'd find myself pining after the previous inconveniences I'd lost. At least I was used to them.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved








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