Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Kitten Day

Everybody always asks what your first memory is. Like it means everything in the world.. Maybe it does, I don't know. I've got snippets, bits and pieces I can remember, almost like pictures, could be I AM just remembering a picture, not the memory, who's to say? But my first whole, real memory, one where we don't have any photos, so I know I'm not cheating, was the Kitten Day.

The neighbor's place was big and expensive. One of those rich, fake farms. Despite the drastic difference in our family's incomes, I was best friends with their youngest daughter Allie. Anyway, their rich, albeit unspayed, cat had a litter of free kittens, hence my memory.

Dad had just gotten up, he worked nights at a machine shop, and even though he must have been tired, he usually woke up in the mornings with the rest of us, and pretty much worked all day too. It was a beautiful, warm day. Dad and I walked down the road, hand in hand...I remember how big his hands were, even though mine could wrap around one of his fingers, he held my hand carefully, the real hand-holding way, not the baby way. I was thinking that I was a big kid, going for a walk with my dad and I didn't have to hold his hand the baby way anymore. At the neighbor's barn he let me climb up a ladder to a small hay mow, when my head could look over the edge, I stopped, and he stood on the ladder in back of me with his arms on either side so I couldn't fall. There was bright, loose hay scattered on the floor, right at the level of my nose and it tickled and got in my hair. Just the same color. Morning sunlight streamed through cracks in the walls and everything was golden and glowing. A mama cat came over, purring, and pushed her cheek hard against my cheek, almost knocking me over. I laughed, but didn't dare let go of the ladder rungs. Dad reached around me, and out of the hay, he lifted up a tiny, yellow kitten, with darker yellow stripes and a white bib, it's eyes still closed tight. He set it in front of me, and the mama cat briskly tumbled it over on it's side and started to wash it. Dad lifted up another yellow kitten, lighter than the first, and then a grey one, maybe two gray ones? And a black? I can't quite recall. "Pick two" he said. "They can't come home yet, they need to stay with their mama some longer, but let's pick one for you, and one for your sister." I picked the two that were like that day. All gold, and soft and sweet smelling.

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