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The Year of the Cat

Illustration by Homestead

Elisabeth Donnelly | Longreads | May 2019 | 14 minutes (3,392 words)

In an old photo from when I lived in a house in Catskill, New York, on the edge of the Hudson River, I am asleep on the couch with a small cat curled up on my chest. The casual observer would be forgiven for thinking that it was my cat in this still life tableau: snoring woman, mouth wide open, head flung to the side, a red plaid blanket, and a cat in a circle as if it is right at home.

But the thing was, she wasn’t my cat. I didn’t feed her, I didn’t scoop her poop, I didn’t consistently provide her with a home and shelter. She was like a weedy, persistent, besotted lover who wouldn’t listen to the word “no,” who spent every night outside my house with a boombox in the air, playing “In Your Eyes.” Yet to explain it properly — my relationship with my fake cat — we have to back things up slightly.
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