Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Seamus' and Marcie's everyday homecoming ritual

Marcie and Seamus had a huge love affair, with complexities that rivaled Marcie and my own. There were spats and reconciliations, worries and insecurities, and more than a few scares to go around. There was depth there that some of the damaged and cynical might doubt or deride.

Marcie referred to Seamus, as I indicated in another post, by a variety of nicknames. "Little lover," Little Lamb," "Love Bug," "Love Bear," and even cuter names from time to time. He always learned the new monikers dutifully, then responded to them as he did "Seamus" until they passed out of vogue.

When I came home, Seamus was in either of two places. He was in Marcie's presence or locked away in the bedroom for a timeout. Yes, a timeout.

Seamus is a worrier. He watches over his house with a keen eye and expects that within it is maintained a rhythm he can rely on. Marcie provided that for him. If she was a few minutes late and I was already home, he would begin pacing the house and, later, the side yard and back enclosure, letting out low, cautious meows to draw her out, as if he were a lost kitten in the wild. It was adorable, if a bit melancholy.

But the sound of her car pulling up was all he needed to perk up and fly to the door, meows and chattering happiness overwhelming him as his whole body shook and purred. It was very precious to watch. As she would approach, he would start twirling and rubbing, his head waggling to and fro to keep eye contact.

"Oh, helloooo, my little lamb," she would say, the "o" sound raised to a high falsetto.

Seamus, a very prompt-driven chatter, would immediately let out a series of half-meow-mews. Marcie usually stayed outside the screen door as if awaiting an invitation in.

"Did you miss me? Did you wait for me in the window?" she would ask, smiling and totally enjoying his little prancing, punctuated with toe-carpet tugs and the sound of his contented purr-meows, which usually started by the time the ritual questions of greeting had commenced.

"Have you been a good boy?" she would ask, biting her lip or chuckling lightly as his whole body vibrated. "Oh! You want me to come in? Well, I don't know..."

By this time, Seamus would usually have raised hi meows to a fever pitch again, drawing them out over a second or two.

Marcie would relent, opening the door and slipping in, carefully setting her bags down or handing them to me so she could squat and pet him, gingerly avoiding stepping on his toes as he tried to simultaneously rub against her and pull on the carpet.

"I know, baby," she would say. "You had such a hard day, didn't you. You just tell me all about it, that's right."

About the time I started to feel jealous, he would run off to the kitchen, leading her to the pantry, and I would get my kiss from her. I am sure that I had a ritual she assigned to me as well, but to observe the one she played out every day with Seamus was quite a privilege.

Sometimes, I don't know if he has forgotten or just has more hope than me. But he'll stalk the house and the yard, letting out his low meows and mews. He still sleeps under her shrine and sometimes stares at it from the floor. I imagine he recognizes her picture.

I try to greet him at the door like she did, because I know he loves the certainty and the security of it. He seems to enjoy that a lot, even if sometimes I choke up at the memories the act evokes.

When I see him staring at her picture from the floor, I pick him up and put him in my lap so he can purr and sleep, then I gently settle him on his pad under the shrine. Maybe he dreams of her like I do. Maybe she greets him at the doorway to dreams and they play out their little ritual.

That's something I would like to be a witness to again.