There’s a used-book store not far from where I live — I’ve visited there a lot over the years and, of course, have parted with a significant amount of spare change in the process.

There is a cat named Raffles who has lived at the store for what seems like forever. As long as I have been going in and prowling around the stacks hunting for bargains, he has been there — prowling around too — but mostly…sleeping on the counter.

Yesterday I finally asked, “How old is this cat?? Seems like he’s been around here forEHVer….”

The guy said, “Oh about 15 years….” And it was like, Yep, I’ve lived in this town for 16+ years and sometimes it darn near seems like forever (especially during the summer).

And the guy who answered my question looked like he was probably only 10 years old when Raffles was born and the day that I landed in town during an August heatwave. Seems like I’ve been on the planet FOREVER….

Raffles is a big furry tiger-tabby — he kind of looks like a mid-size Maine Coon. He’s always been an extremely unruffled kind of guy — very mellow — and he never turns down pats. He even purrs. He doesn’t move…but he purrs.

Raffles is one of those constants in life that is comforting. It may be months inbetween my visits to the bookstore, but then when I go in, there he is, an inanimate puff of fur on the counter, snoozing away.

Sometimes I’m a tad surprized that he’s STILL there…but surprise always gives way to goo-googly hellos and running my fingers across his soft, long fur.

Parents are comforting constants also — it is hard to imagine them simply not being here one day. They are always the same…sometimes annoyingly so…but in a world that keeps changing in fast and furious ways, unchanging parental eccentricities are a familiar comfort. Kind of. Well, mostly….

My own cat companions are constants in my life also. Each has his or her own quirky personality traits. And even though their unique habits can be irritating at times, they are still oddly comforting and familiar.

For instance, my oldest guy Jack, habitually “squawks” at me when he wants attention. Which, as he gets older, is all the time. He comes up to me, even when I’m eating, touches my arm with his paw and squawks, “Pet Me.”

Sometimes it is like fingernails on chalkboard (do young people even know what that sound is anymore?) but I try to be patient. I know that someday I will miss his funny little voice and his soft, peachy fur.

Mulder and Scully are still kitten-ish, so I know that whenever I hear a strange sound (or NO sound….), there is probably mischief afoot.

They also both prefer water straight from the tap, so I know that whenever there is the slightest chance that I will be turning the faucet on, they will both suddenly appear at the sink as if by magic.

Mulder brings me little toys to throw so that he can play fetch over and over and over again and Scully hovers nearby for a chance at the milk from my cereal bowl.

Raffles, parents, cats…they all contribute to the balance and routine of my life. And in many ways, they are also all fragile, protective barriers between me and my own mortality.

One other constant is that I know that my car will always be dirty every day from being parked on the street. But, alas, that is NOT a comfort….

©September 2011 by Phyllis J. Hanniver


About pjh95811

I am a writer and poet living in California. I love cats, dogs, nature, poetry, spirituality and the Pacific Ocean.
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