The cat has become a lap cat overnight.
No I'm serious.
He's been sweet, and eager to see me -- and my feeding hand -- when I arrive home from work, for the past four months we've been roomies, friends, cat and human.
But I've wondered lately, and expressed confidently, bravely, to some people in my life, that I'm not sure Max is in love with me.
Dibbs, my beloved cat who has been officially adopted and inherited by my parents in Kansas (he's kind of a princess who would never survive a trip from Kansas to California), was in love with me. Purred before I picked him up. Purred a lot. Crawled in my lap. Only recently has he begun to spend time in my father's lap, as I gather from letters from home, and this is a big development in his character.
I won Dibbs over and it was a victory that I will not forget nor let the world forget.
He is mine and I am his and we love each other.
Are in love.
(Well, whether the active "are" verb can be used is perhaps up to the cat, as his mother did hop in a Corolla two years ago and leave him 2,000 miles in her dust. With food and water, and human guardians.)
But I've been fearful of Max. I tried to keep it on the down low, not letting my cat lady panic rise to the surface. I told myself it will take time for him to fall in love with me.
Meanwhile I feared that my imaginings of his affection being greater for me when I first adopted him in August than it is currently were true.
I took deep breaths.
I confided in few.
And today: I have a new cat.
He has met my lap.
When I came home from church this afternoon, I scooped him up and laid on the floor, setting his front paws on my chest, his face facing mine.
I do this often, expecting his usual response -- 30 seconds' tolerance, then a polite, but direct padding off of my torso and onto the non-human surface below.
Today -- sweet, sweet today -- he stayed.
He laid on me, and stayed.
Later, I was watching Felicity (because, duh -- I'm nearing the end of the series; you will soon only hear about it sometimes, as opposed to always), and he came and squished himself beside me.
This he has done before, as well as the very occasional sprawling across my chest, but not as much lately. Furthermore, he used to do this when the futon was in an upright, couchlike position, but today he did it while the futon was in the laid out bedlike position.
And occasionally his paws would rest on my stomach.
Later I was sorting mail, sitting cross-legged on the carpet.
He balanced himself on a thigh (he did this yesterday, now that I realize; I probably just didn't commit yesterday's experience to memory for fear of it being a fluke. And my heart can't handle a fluke. Not with the all precious Office Max).
And then, as I laid on my back, propped on pillows, once again watching Felicity, he was on me again. Granted I went and gathered him from across the room -- he was eyeing some papers and I was afraid he might decide they were going to be a makeshift litterbox -- but when I brought him back over to the futon*, he laid down. His front on my torso, his back portion on my legs.
*I spend a lot of time in my futon.
He was warm. He purred. A steady purr, not motory or gravelly. Even keel, feeling like sand on the ocean's floor slowly pawing at my stomach.
I finally had to get up and go to the bathroom. When I sat up and gently picked him up to move him, placing myself temporarily in a sitting position, he took the opportunity to lie on my legs.
He is sensing I am craving extra affection -- I am -- and he is giving it to me.
I love him.
And I don't know if I should say it yet, but we may be on our way to being in love.
All I know is his timing is great, on this Sunday afternoon when my thoughts are on repeat and my compromised health is keeping me from doing things to actively distract them. He is redirecting my thoughts (to an extent -- he isn't God) to his purring. His warm sandy purr on my belly. His desire for my lap. His desire to fall in love.