phoebe's story, part i

I know, do I really even need to write anything? She's stunning. She's precious. She's fickle. She's a badass. She's my sun and stars.

There once was a kitty named Phoebe,
whose last name could only be Beebe;
and right from the start,
she lassoed my heart...
at last, a lady who sees me!

Ralphina Phoebe Beebe found me on a street corner a little over a year ago, and I cannot remember life without her. The Berkeley Animal Shelter labeled her as semi-feral, and she was high on the euthanize list. Thankfully, one keen volunteer connected, declared her awesome and refused to let them put her down. This small reprieve was time enough for Phoebe to be saved. But in truth, she is the one who saved me.

I was waiting for a friend down on 4th Street, observing an animal adoption fair from the edge of the curb. Cats had been tempting me for years, so that morning I was keeping my distance. But one feline caught my eye, curled beneath a stiff blanket, face peering from the draped edge like a nun’s wimple. Two kids were having a go through the bars, poking this way and that, making obnoxious hyena sounds. No response. Stillness. I inched closer, trying to gauge the severity of their whoops and prods. To my surprise, the cat seemed not at all afraid, just deeply uninspired. Must I endure this nonsense? the face seemed to be saying. Will someone please curtail these nitwits? Finally, the boys moved their show to the next cage and I was given a clearer view of this curious creature, motionless beneath her habit. Hmm. Interesting little kitty, taking me in with wide, pea-green eyes: not retreating, not reaching out, just looking. A posted note read: Does not like children. Needs a quiet space. Prefers women. Hmm. A little uh-oh went off in my head. There's something going on here...this is feeling rather funny...I think I'll step away now… I retreated to my original spot at the far end of the curb, crossed my arms, leaned against the lamppost and stared at the cat through suspicious, half-slit eyes. 

Minutes passed. I waited for the strange sensation to ebb, for the hairs on my arms to relax; they never did. So I returned to the cage, pressed my nose close for a good look, and that's when I noticed the name tag. PHOEBE. It was all over, then. Done. Finito. Really? Her name is Phoebe? Ah, geez. I think I belong to this cat. Divine timing could not be ignored; my dearest and I had been riffing off the name Phoebe (sharing inside family jokes) for the last two weeks straight. Phoebe was high in my mind. Phoebe was wide in my heart. And now here she was in the flesh. I felt some piece of inner fence slip; bits of protective barrier gave way. Three days later, I brought her home.       


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