The sun sets and casts defining shadows the mid-day never knows. Bright daylight bleaches details that would go unnoticed, save for the setting sun.

If you’re not a late-day walker, you won’t see these vital notes. If all you know is one time of day, even if that one time is a significant block of hours, you’ll miss nuances of what’s all around you.

You won’t know your place. I’ll go further and say, you won’t really know who you are, if you don’t get exposure to different light.

A few days ago, I took a walk in my neighborhood–one of many daily walks. I’m a transplant to this area and it’s all new to me. While there are many dog walkers in this secluded community, I’ve not seen many cats. And I do love cats, very much.

On this particular day, I came across a black cat that I had met earlier in the week. She saw me this second time, I saw her, and a hand up, and a tail up. We walked toward each other, in greeting.

She’s a great cat. Brown whiskers, no voice, so willing to be patted and spoken to! How can one be so friendly, without past experiences together? How had she been treated, to greet a stranger this fantastic way? isn’t that a tribute to her owners?

I steadied myself, then crouched and splayed my hands at my side. She walked around me, pushing her face and edges of her teeth into my knees, fingers, and forearms. When a cat is happy, their human companion’s ills are forgotten. That’s right, every problem weighing on me was gone.

Few beings have this power. And too few people get the pleasure of such an experience.

If you haven’t, you have to find a way to get to this release. If you can’t imagine it, you can start by believing it. If you don’t want it, you need it more than anyone.

If you’ve had an animal’s acceptance and love, you’ll take it again, any time such a creature comes by.

I noticed something when she trotted towards me. Her head was tilted, like she was pondering a question, similar to, “Hmm, do I know you?”

As we spent our moments, I realized something that halted my good feelings. Her head was tilted, permanently. I gave her a close look, over the course of our few minutes. This cat was looking at life through a ten-degree neck twist.

Was it nerve damage, from an accident? Or had she been this way from birth?

No collar, no obvious owner to talk to. No answers.

Damn it! I cursed the tilt. I felt sorry that whatever happened to her, she’d been left bent this way. She didn’t seem distressed or in pain in any way. And then I thought, maybe the process worked in reverse, too. Maybe her ills go away–not just mine–when she happens to come across an animal lover. Maybe she can spot such people, by how we look at her, what greetings we emit, and when our body posture says, “You have a friend if you want one. Want to come over?”

Maybe she forgets her pain when she’s touched and loved. And when she can touch you, and love you.

I’ve met her twice and hope to make it a regular event, here in this new neighborhood. I’ve learned that when I walk away from her, I can’t look back, because she will come running. I can glance back when I’m a bit of a distance away, to be assured she’s cleaning a paw, safely on a plot of lawn, perhaps at her own home.

I walked towards my apartment and the reality of life flowed back into me. The sun sets and casts shadows, and I could see mine, clearly defined in length in front of me. And then I saw something I’d never seen before. My shadow showed what I didn’t realize about myself. I too, was tilted. Bent, crooked, from an accumulation of a due course of life.

We–both of us–are going to be all right.

About Ara Hagopian's The LITERATE Show

For over thirty years, I have enjoyed drawing beautiful shapes and writing complementary stories. The imagery tends to focus on our place in the world—whomever or whatever we may be. I am influenced by Twentieth Century history—I read vintage magazines, books and letters. Inspiration comes from visualizing human achievement and personal interaction—derived from people, places and things which may be obscure, but never insignificant. My pen-and-ink THE MAGNIFICENT RECOVERY was selected by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for their 2008 summer art auction.
This entry was posted in Cats, non-fiction. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Tilted

  1. Clive Donald Watts. says:

    Oh lovely…just lovely.

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