I’m cat sitting in Victoria. It’s for less than a week. Just me, a 19-year-old cat, a few plants, three water dishes strewn around the house, and the neighbour kid telling me there was an injured racoon in the backyard. Victoria animal control doesn’t respond to racoon calls. I checked.
The heater turns on. Provides white noise to my reading. So do the Ellen DeGeneres videos I impulsively watch on YouTube, one after the other. But by then I put down my reading.
Had dinner with a friend last night. We worked together while I was here in the summer and had seen each other once in Vancouver while she was passing through. We share belly laughs. We share our news. Me, the PTSD I feel when I’m in a waiting room, the endless moving, the freedom this house sitting website gives me. Her, the new (again?) trend of young men refusing to wear condoms, the endless moving, the freedom having fixed her car gives her.
I need her.
I need a reason to get out of the house. I need someone to sit across from and eat Lebanese. I need to hear new perspectives on topics I wouldn’t have otherwise thought to think about, and someone to listen as I word my way through new thoughts of my own. I cannot stay locked in my house of solitude. I need an other that is not me.
I open The New York Times on a different browser than usual, one that doesn’t have my adblocker enabled. I scroll the stories and the unfamiliar ads, interrupting the flow of type. There’s one along the side. It’s a woman with half her face cut off at the top. Her shoulders are slightly up in a shrug as she casually jams her hands in her pockets. Fingers manicured, wrists accessorized with bracelets. Her hair is perfectly coifed.
The image she presents is perfectly extractable. Woman in her 40s. Thin, blonde, happy, clearly has time to present herself to the world in a way that looks put-together and distinct. (It’s the same, though. The same as every other woman. They’re so interchangeable they don’t even have faces.) The ad hints that I could have those things, too. It’s selling me that image, but I don’t need an image. I need her.
I need her to be a living, breathing being. I need her to embody her values and goals. This ad has stripped her of an identity and replaced it with the clothes and jewelry she wears. The way she stands so relaxed. I don’t need an object draped in cloth and colour. I need a human woman living in this world. I need her.
I heard a story about a dot. Consciousness was all there was. No time, no space, no cause and effect. Just unimaginable consciousness. Because how can consciousness imagine itself? When there is nothing other than something, there cannot be the knowledge of anything else. After so long of consciousness being all there was, a dot appeared. Suddenly consciousness could know itself. With something external to relate to, awareness could tell it was to the left of the dot, beside the dot, not the dot.
Difference is what lets me know myself. I continually muster up the critical mass to go against my natural instinct for solitude. I continually remind myself to get up, go out into the public sphere, have a conversation with something other than the thoughts inside my head.
I need you so that I know who I am.