I apologise for the long absence. I have been flying back and forth from Paris to New Jersey in order to be of support to my Uncle Stan and my cousin, Joan. I say support because Joan has done the lion’s share of the work to get Stan moved into Skilled Nursing and packing up, cleaning out and closing up his 2 bedroom apartment. I was there for the final week of closing down the apartment. Anyone who flies a lot across the ‘pond’ knows that going up and down, crossing time zones really does take a lot out of you. So although I’ve had many ideas for my blog, I just didn’t have the energy to do anything with my ideas.
Until last night. When Bijou disappeared for about four hours. As the old Joni Mitchell song goes: “You don’t know what you have till it’s gone,” I thought my heart would stop a couple of times.
So I’ll back up. The sun has been shining in Paris. The temperature has gone up. For three days, it has felt Spring like–although many of us feel too superstitious to actually say Spring has come to Paris. As I’ve reported in an earlier blog, I have a huge terrace. It is a third room that is mostly accessible in warm weather. There are two large sliding glass doors in both the Living Room and the Bedroom. That is my access to my terrace. Yesterday, I had both doors completely open and was inspecting all the plants that I’d put on the terrace last summer and fall. Bijou followed me in and out. She is a very social cat and likes to be around people. Where I go she goes and makes herself comfortable. If there happen to be pigeons or other flying objects near the terrace, she will sit on the couch or perch herself on the outside table and chatter away as only a cat can do. This is not meowing for you non-cat people. This is a true chatter. The sound is like a far away typewriter going at full speed.
After six plus months in this apartment, Bijou knows not to jump up on the terrace guardrail. When we first moved here, she would jump up and discovering it was six inches across, go walking along happy as can be. She would visit the next door neighbour’s terrace and come running back when she heard the fear in my voice as I called for her.
I don’t want her on the terrace guardrail. I don’t trust in her sense of balance and assume there is a reason for the saying “A cat has nine lives.” When I can’t find her, the first thing I do is look down eight flights to the courtyard below to see if there is cat splatted on the concrete.
Last night, I was catching up on e-mails (for some reason, I think it is actually possible to catch up! Silly me). I suddenly realised I hadn’t seen Bijou in an hour or two. I closed the living room doors and went from room to room looking for her. I couldn’t find her in any of her preferred sleeping places. I stood outside on the terrace and called her name. She usually comes running when I call her. She is under the impression I might feed her. Nothing, no sign of her. I told myself to calm down, she would show up. I turned on the TV and watched a BBC mystery in hopes that my mind would not obsess on where she wasn’t.
Thirty minutes went by. I did my rounds of the apartment again and stood on the terrace again calling her name. Nothing. I watched another half hour of TV. Did the rounds again, this time, I pulled out some wet food that she absolutely adores. I don’t give it to her as a rule because she then will go on strike and not eat her regular dry food. As I tore open the envelope of food, the smell seemed to fill the apartment and the terrace. I walked to the dividing wall between me and my neighbour, calling her name and holding the smelly wet food towards his terrace. Nothing.
I looked down into the courtyard again. It was dark. So I took the elevator to the RDC, went out into the courtyard, climbed up into the garden and called her name. Maybe it’s true. That cats can fall and land on their feet. I was walking on dirt not concrete so I guess anything is possible. Nothing. I peered into the next door courtyard trying to catch a glimpse of the concrete to see if there was a cat. Nothing.
Up the elevator I went trying not to cry. I was sure this time I had really lost her. Anyone who has followed the escapades of Bijou knows she was especially precocious as a kitten. When she turned 18 months old, she turned from her “monster” self into a very sweet kitten. When she stayed with my friend, Melinda, during my California trip and surgery, she gave that family some heart stopping moments. I haven’t had to worry about her since it turned cold in November and I have had the doors only cracked open for air.
I opened and shut every closet door calling her name. I closed all my bureau drawers, found my flashlight and looked three and four times in the exact same place. There are just moments when the mind will not take in information. I find myself repeating an action over and over until finally acceptance moves me to some other action.
Three hours went by while I tried not to give in to the thought that this time was really it. I had really lost her. While I tried to get interested in something else and give my mind a rest from it’s end of the world scenarios.
Around 11:30pm, I was stepping out onto the terrace from my bedroom when I heard a tiny ‘meow’ from far away. I ran to the dividing wall calling her name. Nothing. I came back to the doors one foot in and one foot out on the terrace. Where was the ‘meow’ coming from? Was I going to have to wake up a neighbour I’ve never met because somehow Bijou managed to get herself into another apartment. I heard the ‘meow’ again.
I pulled open one of the bureau drawers that I’d slammed shut while I was so nerve wracked. I saw a tail. I called her name but nothing happened. I took everything out of the drawer and out came Bijou. She didn’t even have the grace to look embarrassed. She had gotten stuck behind the chest of drawers when I shut the drawer. I was so happy to see her I gave her the entire envelope of wet food.
When a tourist comes to Paris, one of the first things they see are the millions of postcards, greeting cards, trinkets, etc of cats on Parisian roofs, cats in front of beautiful doors, cats with their tails wound into a heart. Parisian cats! It’s almost as emblematic as the Eiffel Tower. If I really wanted to scare myself, I could spend some time wondering how those cats got on the roofs, whose cat exactly is in front of the door. But I won’t do that. I do think I’m in for a long Spring/Summer wondering how many escapades I’m going to be dealing with as Bijou drums up more things for me to write about.