I’m always surprised when someone comes into my home and remarks on the presence of cat things. I am no longer a person who owns cat things. As a young girl, I lined my room with shelves of cats, mostly breakable ones. Pink kittens festooned the wallpaper, played with yarn across the bed covers, gazed out at me from pillow shams with round, moist eyes.

At what age, precisely, does it become unacceptable to put everything we love on display?

At what moment did the editing begin? By what line of reasoning did I develop the rule that cat things are tolerable only in moderation? For my thirteenth birthday, I asked for new wallpaper, replacing the kittens with a garish purple palm-tree design, and began sleeping under grown-up single-colour bed sheets. I limited myself to wearing just one cat accessory at a time — jade cat earrings OR Hello Kitty purse OR cat-face socks.

I think of myself as a minimalist because I remove more things from my apartment than I acquire. I’m not editing so much as shedding, relieving myself of the burdens of ego. And yet, invariably new guests will say, “I can see you like cats.”

“Do I?” I respond, following their eyes to the black-and-white cat lino-print in a frame, a crouching glass figurine on my office windowsill, a curled-up cat carved from heavy wood that I use to keep books from falling over, a porcelain one tucked between the matryoshka dolls and glazed coconut from Hawaii.

For a moment, I feel compelled to throw scarves over them, stuff them in the back of shelves, slide them into drawers — an impulse to hide childish remnants. These few that made it this far must be protected, now. Saved for the final, brutal edit that will take them, eventually.


Progressive Tense Cards (20)

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