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About Literature / Hobbyist Member ChrisMale/United States Group :iconoriginal-lit-yaoi: Original-Lit-Yaoi
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I turned 50 nearly a month ago and felt the need to say something about it. Every so often, something incredibly profound and wise-sounding would occur to me, but I'd never be in a position to jot it down, and they all fell out of my head. I'm left with little more than a maudlin mood, with vague reflections hardly worth considering.

It's a little odd that the two almost invariants in my life have been cats and gaming. I might also mention Christianity and my family. But Christianity recently fell by the wayside as experience, or the lack thereof, killed my faith; and my extended family lives far away. On the other hand I've had a cat for almost as long as I can remember, with a brief interruption between the time I moved to my current state of residence and my second year of marriage.

The first cat in my life was named Zacchaeus, an odd name for a cat until you consider his kittenish habit of hanging out in the large tree in the backyard. There was a bird feeder on the lowest big bough, and he'd lie there on his belly, all four paws dangling, waiting patiently for a potential snack on the wing. My mother, who always knew her Bible well, was unavoidably reminded of the diminutive tax collector who climbed the sycamore tree to see Jesus over the crowds.

I don't think the tree was a sycamore, but it hardly mattered.

Zacchaeus arrived when I was about three years old. He was a stray, attracted to our house by some fish my father had caught and was cleaning. Dad was opposed to cats in principle, a prejudice no doubt instilled in him by his mother. In other matters she was wise and kind and respectable, and later in life helped me tremendously in ways for which I was never sufficiently grateful, but for some reason she feared and distrusted cats. Zacchaeus, being a cat of fine discernment, would always leap onto her lap when she came to visit.

Mom very much took to this cat. Dad therefore had to relent, but under this firm rule: if the cat hurt either me or my sister, who was about a year younger than me, out it would go. So it was a moment of crisis when my sister ran up to him about a week later. "Daddy! The kitty hurt me!" Dad restrained his first reaction, to strangle the cat, long enough to ask, "What did it do to you?" The answer: "He stepped on my foot!"

I remember my sister and I being greatly amused by that. I don't think we let Dad live it down for at least a month.

Zacchaeus died while I was away from home during one of my college semesters, an ancient cat full of years, but there had already been other cats in the meantime. None could quite measure up to him, it seemed to me. Sweet as they are, none of the three cats with whom I now share my house are his equal either. He was a quiet cat, affectionate without being needy, self-contained and confident and self-reliant enough to survive on his own for several months. That was his reaction to us getting a dog. He eventually forgave us and moved back in, but he made sure there was clarity on the dog's part about which animal in the house was senior.

It's a little weird for me to note that I'm currently in my 10th lifetime residence, and that's not counting college dormitory life and summers spent at my grandparents' house, nor a summer spent house-sitting for a friend of my mother's while we awaited the completion of the condo complex we were to move into. This is the first one I've owned. It took the bursting of the housing bubble to get me buying a house; before then, housing prices always seemed to rise faster than my salary. According to Google Maps, my house is just short of 2,550 miles, or just over 4,100 km, from the spot where I was born. That's a bit of a distance in time and space.

I discovered gaming later than cats. The second house I lived in, the one I consider the house where I grew up, was in a semi-rural township in Central New Jersey, which had only begun to succumb to the creeping suburbanization that has now almost overwhelmed it. There was a bar and grill in the unincorporated town three miles south of us that had pretty good pizza, but they also had a baseball machine. Not quite pinball, you played the game by trying to hit a steel ball with a bat-shaped flipper through one of a set of targets that would determine your base position or outs. I thought it was great fun, but Dad would only let me have so many dimes. (Games were a dime each, or three plays for a quarter.) But the general store in the town also had a pinball machine, of which I would take full advantage as soon as I was old enough to ride my bike there on my own, and whenever I had some change to spend. (In them days, a quarter was a quarter!)

Pinball is less common now, but I'm still gaming. If I haven't written much lately, it's partly because a MMORPG called Mabinogi takes up far too much of my attention and creative energy. It's the only game of that genre that has held my interest for any length of time. It might or might not mean anything that I keep my character looking around age 13.

I almost might as well still be that age, after all. I had imagined that by the time I was well into middle age, I'd feel much more... I don't know. As if I had a grip on life. I don't, really. I can't even tell that I've changed much, apart from being less energetic and a tad fatter. It's not merely that I feel a clear continuity between my present self and the toddler so interested in the recently cut grass his parents led him across once summer evening toward the bright carnival; or the elementary school student who nowadays would probably be diagnosed with something, for whom the social swirl around him was an unfathomable, opaque mystery; or the preteen obsessed in fantasy and science fiction in any medium; or the young teen denying his sexuality with all his power even as he fell in love with a camp friend (that memory still haunts me; how different would life have been had I not lost his phone number? Had I not been too shy and fearful to show more of what I felt than a giddy friendship?); or the college student who felt he had finally found his place and a crowd of friends he could at long last identify with in all ways but one; or the young adult on his own, finding new friends and a new place and a new way to, even then, deny his true desires. (I've only in recent years begun to push the closet door open. My ingrained reflex is still to hide my true feelings.)

Through all that and more, through joy and heartache, and shocks of sudden new, lifelong tasks I never anticipated or wanted, but which I cannot now shirk and still retain any self-respect, I'm still the same. Even my very earliest memory, a frightening experience which my immature brain could not make sense of, perhaps existing in my mind as a memory of a memory, which I could scarcely credit as genuine until decades later when I was able to put the pieces together and understand what had happened -- even that fits into a continuum of identity where the ego in the secret core of it all is essentially unaltered.

I thought I'd be different. But I'm not. And I may just be figuring out that I don't need to be.


Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United States
I'm just here to show off my writing and to stare at the pretty pictures.

I don't usually thank people for faves, even though they're much appreciated, just because that's a conversation that never really goes anywhere. But I almost always reply to comments!

Current Residence: Santa Cruz County, California

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tarz-an 2 hours ago  Hobbyist Photographer
Thanks for the faves!
Wind-up la And thanks for faving "Watching" too! La Push-Ups 
:la: Hop Thanks for faving

Paxdia of Mars by leothefox  
neurotype Mar 19, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Heard about this?
Lytrigian Mar 19, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Ooh, nifty! Thanks!

I'll probably get it because I'm a whore that way.
neurotype Mar 19, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Eeren Mar 4, 2014  Student Digital Artist

Thanks a lot for the fav on my "Sleep, my lamb" illustration! :hug:

Sleep, my lamb, and I'll protect you by Eeren

Hi, No problems yes I totally agree with your comments he is an old mature life model of many years experience and will be retiring soon.  
Hi, Interesting comment, maybe a very slight resemblance take care regards L.M.  
Lytrigian Feb 24, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I didn't mean to be TOO flip, but the resemblance struck me at once. I will say it's nowhere near as striking as other photos you've posted with this same model, so no doubt the angle and lighting had a great deal to do with it.

He has amazing hair, doesn't he?
I loved your responses to techgnotic's article! Nice to see nonsense called out so competently, much respect for you.
Lytrigian Feb 20, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you!

I was wondering why I was getting a response or two on this, until I finally looked at the "hot topics" just now. I usually ignore them, but there it was. I guess half the site is reading the thing now.
thanks for your :+fav: on "Valentine slid" !

Valentine slid by bribesdemoi
Alexendre86 Feb 14, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for faving my Valentine 'w'
Maxen13 Feb 1, 2014  Hobbyist Interface Designer
Thank you for the fav :)
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