In the latest installment of ‘Love, Recorded,’ Boise gets a brother, and Matt spends the night at a bus stop.
In a time of no listening, I tell Cathreen about a possible kitten. Her head moves slightly. Then we are discussing names. I ask for pictures; Cathreen says she will be able to tell right away. Maybe an hour after the photos arrive, I am emailing that we would like to pick up the kitten that night.
When we bought Boise in Korea, it was the same kind of whirlwind. It was raining and he was the only one of his siblings left. We were with a friend who is no longer a friend, and we left the pet store with Boise and a cab full of supplies; she left with a puppy. Somehow the rain seemed to compel all three of us. I remember thinking, this way, Cathreen and I will always share something. We were not yet engaged.
Now we rent a Zipcar and make our way into Brookline to adopt a second little life-changer. We name him Bear. Cathreen has always wanted a black cat. While I’m at work the next day, she buys a bag full of toys and a yellow collar that makes him almost visible in the dark, though she still makes me leave the light on. We both agree he is better looking than in his pictures, as if he is some unfortunate celebrity.
Boise is more Cathreen’s than mine. I left when he was still 6 months old, to return to America. Bear we will raise together. Maybe he will bond more with me. I think Cathreen is a little afraid of this.
On our way home from Brookline, we start to worry: what if Boise doesn’t like Bear? Boise has never liked other cats. We suspect he thinks himself a dog—he grew up with dogs. Or what if he attacks? The puppy our ex-friend in Korea bought, Boise would stalk like a tiger hunting a deer.
We let Bear into the house and wait with anxious hands. Boise hisses, but Bear ignores him, walking past as if he is already king. When Bear tries to wrestle, Boise flees. We start to worry about Boise for other reasons.
We soon see that Boise is still like a kitten. They are two little babies. Boise climbs immediately into the bed we bought for Bear. We have an old toy he never plays with; when Bear wants it, Boise whines. I tell Cathreen I cannot imagine having twins, and she says twins would be my fault, as her family has no history of twins and we don’t know my genetic history.
It is a busy literary week as well. I read in New York twice, spending more time on the bus than in the city. I have to leave the cats to Cathreen. After the first reading, I am supposed to take the overnight bus back to Boston. I show up to the bus stop four minutes before scheduled. Ten minutes later, I find the hidden real bus stop. I am forced to spend the night waiting for the next bus, which comes at six in the morning.
Both these trips make me realize how much I love Boston. I catch a cold from staying out overnight. Back at home, I play with Bear, who climbs up into my lap as I type at the computer.
It’s nice to see your family waiting at the door.
It doesn’t take long to understand why Bear is not photogenic. It’s hard to get a picture. He only stops moving to eat or sleep. He exhausts us by trying to catch our bodies beneath the blankets all night. He always tries to eat Boise’s adult food. He tips over the water dish. He is adorably bad.
I am so tired. Are we happy yet? I wonder. Cathreen teaches me how she took care of Boise. She did well when I was gone. Bear is a different animal, maybe a test of parenthood. Boise didn’t do this, Cathreen says. Boise didn’t do that. Bear looks into the toilet every time it flushes, curious about where the water goes. Bear coerces our landlords into giving him toys he strews about the house. Bear gets dust in his black hair from rolling around everywhere he can. But when we get that elusive picture of him, his head hanging out of his basket, we agree: little Bear is an aw.