Songs of Innocence August 31, 2014Posted by The Typist in The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
I could not publish until Anya was gone from fear of upsetting my daughter. We put Anya to sleep Aug. 29, very close to what would hvave been her 19th birthday.
My daughter’s cat is clearly dying. She has stopped eating–again–and spends her days laying in her chosen spot on the linoleum just outside the bathroom. She gets up to use the cat box and drink water but that’s it. She has become a bag of skin and bones. Her name is Anastasia: Anya for short. That should give you some idea of her age. I won’t send you off to the imdb database to look up the release date of the Disney film. Suffice it to say the cat is pushing eighteen.
I think I will take this just as hard as my daughter, or my son (who loves the cat). I was the person who gave her the most sustained attention before my separation (she was always a little afraid of my son, who was too young when we adopted her to fully understand the difference between a plush toy and a livinv animal.) As my daughtef grew older she was less and less around the house, and was I believe somewhat allergic fo her cat. Matt persisted in his more tender attentions until she relented and his bed became a favotite place to sleep. I offered her a warm chest to nap on while I lay on the couch. When she came home to me, after a period of adjustment she returned to nudge her head against my book anytime I lay on the couch to read.
What I am afraid of losing is not my animal companion but one of the last cherished icons of innocence. Anya was my daughter’s fifth birthday present. She represents for me both innocence, and those nights I intentionally fell asleep on the couch reading instead of in bed with my ex-, a symptom of the loss of innocence. Innocence, that cherished belief that the world is not out to recycle you to better purposes the minute you stop looking over your shoulder, is one of more difficult pathologies of the romantic. It is usually extinguished early in life, but the romantic carries at least a kernel of it with them indefinitely. Yes, I have my dark side. Consider William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience as a good example of the balance of both in the pathological romantic. Then consider that I can recreate Allen Ginsburg’s recording of “Oh, Rose, Thou Art Sick!” (minus harmonium), note for flat note.
Children exacerbate that pathological extension of innocence into adulthood, particularly in the romantic. One continually sees an expression, a gesture, a turn of phrase that wooshes one back to a more innocent time, before the terrible twos turned into the twenties, before the credit card was over limit again. Even looking last night at the cat’s whiskers called up a memory of how my daughter had cut the whiskers of her favorite stuffed animal–Rugby Tiger–when she was small. I was probably wallowing at that point, stroking the cat beside me in the bed. (Wallowing is another romantic pathology we shall discuss another time).
I don’t want to take up and find innocence dead on the floor, but she does not seem to be suffering and we both take comfort in the time my son and I spend sitting on the floor stroking her. She will even attempt to climb into my lap, although her hindquarters are getting weaker by the day. I feel that innocence is dying all around me, and with it trust and love. There is trust that is earned, and the practical love of adults, and the tangle of obligations taken on for love. I understand that. Unconditional love and trust: those are another matter. I am not the sort to give myself up to a blue or bloody avatar. To do so is to lose too much of one’s humanity. For now, I want to keep Anya with us as long as I can, and tie Pollyanna and Pangloss in a burlap sack with rocks and toss them into a river.