I came home and Mom was already there.
Recently I was challenged to recall a moment when I felt perfectly happy. Before you read on, I ask you to do the same.
Surprised, I regarded her with uncertain eyes. This was out of the ordinary.
Did your mind go blank? If you are like me (and deep down who isn’t like everyone else) your mind was overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. Perfectly happy? What does that even mean? Jumping up and down and screaming happy? Or warm cup of tea and a good book happy? Are these two kinds of happiness ultimately the same?
Mom’s dark eyes locked on mine. Her demeanor was strange, as if she had been caught somehow off guard.
If you are like me (and we have established that you are) then a bit of panic is on the heels of this mental vacuum. The cold anxiety stems from one icy thought, what if you have never been “perfectly happy.” What if something is always amiss however slight? What if the best you can hope for is only an approximation of this ideal?
One second. Two seconds. A beat of silence.
“Mom”, I said. “What are you doing home so soon?”
If you are like me (dear reader we are so much more alike than we are different) this question causes you a mild depression at first. Mentally you are hopping from memory to memory like an obsessive-compulsive frog searching for the perfect lily pad. Nope. Nope. Nope. Every memory lacks perfection.
“Don’t move”, Mom commands holding both arms out in front of her with her palms facing me. The queerest little smile kissing the corners of her mouth.
Then finally, at the exact moment you stop searching for it, dawn breaks in your mind. Your perfect memory (or memories) is suddenly present and playing before your eyes like a beloved movie.
“I take a single step back.” Mom turns her back to me and begins to call out to absolutely no one.
“Come one out”, she sings in a high pitched voice. “Come one, she is here now.” Come on out!”
Mom is walking down the hall using little petite steps. She is looking down and not ahead of her and I know in that instant that my mother has lost her mind.
You see moments of perfect happiness do not announce themselves as such. They often begin mundane or even miserable. Then a miracle occurs and we are wrapped in a beautiful experience. I have found that my happiest moments were completely unexpected, total surprises.
“Its OK Mom”, I say. I am sixteen years old today and my mother has clearly lost her mind. I’m not a child anymore and I need to remain calm until I can get her some help.
“Oh where are you”, scolds Mom in her strange, playful sing song.
“We practiced this all day!”
I take one step forward and then stop suddenly. My heart speeds up. I just heard something.
“It couldn’t be”, I thought.
Then I hear it again. It is heart beat faint, but unmistakable.
“Meow!” A tiny black ball of fuzz emerges from the hallway. Mom stoops down to pick him up and hands him to me.
Speechless, sparkling tears pouring from my eyes I take my new forever friend into my arms for the first time.
“Happy Birthday”, Mom says. I think you should name him Puss.
Almost fifteen years later, Puss and I are still together.
When I was struggling with the essay portion of the application to Bootcamp, Puss kept me laughing with his crazy feline antics, which include running back and forth across the living room at top speed. (Cat people, you know what I’m talking about. Non-cat people go get a cat and become a cat person.)
When it is after 1 am and I am still awake studying HTML and CSS, Puss is often in my lap keeping me company with warmth and soft purring.
And when I was accepted into the camp, Puss was the first to know, as he was asleep in my lap when I received the acceptance email. I jumped up with glee, disturbing his nap and he shot me a look that only a cat can give.
As I work through computer programming, Puss will be right there with me. I view him as an honorary member of the camp.
In my first post A Life Without Challenge you met my epileptic calico MaryGold.
But this post? Well, this one’s for Puss.