To Reach The Green Light At The End Of The Pier
FOR AS LONG AS IT TAKES: "We are saving ourselves through the words," says Eleanor, the leading lady of a novel-in-progress. This exploration into the creative process -- which includes plenty of distractions/tangents /thoughts & rants by Eleanor, her Biographer, and selected guest artists -- will continue until Eleanor is certain her story is "right." (But we dare not jump ahead of ourselves.)
There will be the occasional typo (as Eleanor points out), and much of this is intended to be "original draft" -- what comes out of our mouths (heads) first, and then set down in that order. Not all of it will be included in the novel, but all of it is happening in real time.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Farewell, My Zelda
"Like all pure creatures, cats are practical."
-- William S. Burroughs
Zelda was 18 years, 9 months old. She was indeed a pure creature. And she was practical in terms of self-preservation/ survival. She had to be practical with all of the moves she made with me -- a dozen or so since 1990, and through the up times and the down times. She adjusted to her surroundings. We were together.
Zelda (after Zelda Fitzgerald) was my beloved companion, best friend, a muse. She was always there for me, and I tried to be the same for her.
Zelda died last Friday morning, her last breath taken as I held her. She also got one final purr in. And I held her for as long as I could, until my body warmth was making her body warm. I couldn't help but feel everything that was once Zelda, in feline form, was slipping away from me, even as I held her tighter, closer.
A co-worker at the hospital I was working at in 1990 gave me Zelda. She was already a survivor. She came from a farm, and most of the other kittens met tragic ends. Not Zelda. She was one intelligent animal. She knew she had a long life ahead of her. And so she did.
Zelda arrived at work in a big brown box. She stuck her head out to see what was happening. She was so small, but her eyes told me the world about her. Those big eyes, always watching, always curious, always inquisitive. I left the office, took her home right away.
She had to grow into her eyes, but they remained wide open through the years as she listened to me talk about writing, or talk about mundane things like the weather. She liked the sound of my voice. She was quick to purr, and she showed unconditional love that taught me so much about how to love another human being. That may sound a bit strange, but we learn so much from so many sources -- if we keep our senses open. None of these sources should be denied.
To me, Zelda was as much human as cat. All of my Little Rooms I've had, my writing spaces -- Zelda wanted to be a part of them. She wanted to sit at my feet and listen to me click away at the keyboard.
Friday afternoon, I buried Zelda in a flowerbed in front of the house. I covered her with part of a blanket I had as a child. I sprinkled catnip over her. (She loved her 'nip, and when she needed more, I had to personally sniff all of the catnip at the pet store to make sure I found the most potent variety.) I also placed some flower seeds with her -- "Forget-Me-Nots." I doubt they'll grow that far under the ground, so this, a symbolic gesture. Later this Spring, I'll find the perfect plant to place above her.
Yesterday I went to the store and bought two red roses, one for Zelda, and one for the Little Room.
We are in mourning here, yes.
The rose I put atop her resting place seems to like it there. The rose inside the Little Room is nodding my direction.
Although she couldn't get around as easily these past months, Zelda never lost the kitten in her. I hope I never lose the child in me. She remained curious, and intuitive, and she also kept listening, and the longer I'd talk to her, the longer she'd purr, and we both knew we were going to be okay. She trusted me. I never took that trust lightly.
Zelda was supposed to be around when I had my first novel published. I am taking too long, perhaps. She gave me all of those years, and was with Eleanor from her creation as a thought in my head to a fully developed character on the page.
Damn it, I miss her.
See, we looked out for one another, and I am wondering if I failed her somehow. If I did, I hope she forgives me. I hope she's in a version of a better place. I do still feel her presence. I hope I always will.
Zelda -- you were loved. Deeply. I know I was loved, too. We set out to conquer the literary world, and we almost made it when you were alive. I always imagined you sitting on my first novel, quite content to rest there, to fall asleep, gently -- creating something poetic as you did.
I realize that not everyone will "get" this posting, but anyone who has had a faithful companion like Zelda will understand completely. For those of you who have emailed me about Zelda, I'm grateful. I'll do my best to make this grieving process productive. More now than ever, I am determined. I can't control the timing of the industry, but I can control my output, and in making Eleanor's story something "better than good."
I'm going to turn the comments off on this one. There is nothing more to be said, really. Just things to be felt.
Perhaps Zelda did what she was meant to do -- she showed me the way. This path I'm on -- this is the right direction. Thank you, Zelda. Thank you.
I need this grieving process to stop, Zelda, so I can celebrate you and your life properly.
ELEANOR says: "Please turn the page. Keep reading."
For more of Eleanor and her Biographer -- as well as the work of our many guest artists -- check out the older postings. "Everything is part of the process, and the process is the journey," Eleanor says.