Cat in the rain, I said to myself as I saw a cat walking in the rain, trying to find a place to hide. I was standing on the balcony. It was dark. It was raining. It was 10 pm. I was alone.
“Cat in the rain” by Ernest Hemingway:
The American wife stood at the window looking out. Outside right under their window a cat was crouched under one of the dripping green tables. The cat was trying to make herself so compact that she would not be dripped on.
‘I’m going down and get that kitty,’ the American wife said.
Oh, I wanted it so much. I wanted a kitty, I echoed the American wife. I laughed at myself. I laughed because I realized the absurdity that I had unwittingly created with you.
I have been reading your message for the past twenty minutes. I had to because I was afraid that I had missed a word or perhaps a punctuation, anything of modest relevance, just enough to alter its meaning. My eyes gripped every letter, every comma, every period, and every capitalization. I wanted that I had read and comprehended everything.
You sounded sincere. And I wanted you to be sincere. I let the words dance in my head; their proper meanings, their arrangements, their implications. I let my brain run a thorough analysis. I read and re-read. My heart raced as my brain detected nervousness in your train of thought, which had subtly bled into your prose. It’s almost like I could see your hands shake as you typed out the words. I realized that you were probably nervous, or scared even, when you sat down to write these words. And my heart raced with yours, although more anxiously; I’d like to believe.
Your run-on sentences didn’t lie. Rather than obscuring, they burst with sincerity, though apologetically.
I was shaking. I couldn’t tell if I was shaking because I was cold or because I was reacting emotionally to the words you had selectively plucked from your mind.
I wanted to cry.
I wanted to cry because in that moment I thought of the cat in the rain. “It isn’t any fun being a poor kitty out in the rain.” The American girl said.
I thought of the cat in the rain because I thought the cat was us. For a moment, for a day, for the time I’ve known you, I was convinced – or rather, I had convinced myself – that the cat, which I so badly wanted, was for us to be together. I like you. And that night, you like me too.
“‘Don’t you think it would be a good idea if I let my hair grow out?’ she asked, looking at her profile again.
George looked up and saw the back of her neck, clipped close like a boy’s.
‘I like it the way it is.’”
I wanted to cry because the cat was in the rain and I couldn’t save it. The cat disappeared out of my sight before I could even think of how to save it. And your confession that you aren’t ready to be any more than friends did just the same. It hit me. In that moment, you were George; you were the American husband. You liked it the way it is. Your confession was the rain that made the cat look for shelter and drove it out of my sight long before I could attempt to save it. To have it.
“‘Anyway, I want a cat,’ she said, ‘I want a cat. I want a cat now. If I can’t have long hair or any fun, I can have a cat.’”
“I want a cat. I want a cat now.” I was embarrassed to realize how much I sounded like the American girl in the story. I wanted us. You and me. I want it. I want it now.
But I don’t want it. I never wanted us. I wanted you. Because I like you. A lot. Maybe even infinitely, but not quite enough to commit to you, to be your girlfriend. And I don’t know what to make of it.
I am lonely. I resent my feelings. I resent the feelings I have for you. Why must they be there? Why are they making me sad? Why can’t we be together, if we both like each other? And so what if you’re not ready for it? If you like me too, what’s “ready” got to do with it?
I want to cry. For I believe that if I cried, I might get over it. I might get over the cat, the rain, and even my own feelings.
But that isn’t the case. That won’t happen. I am selfish and I am childish. I am the American wife and you are the cat. I just want you, and if we had been together, I would’ve hurt you in the end.
Or could it be the case that I am the cat. I am the cat in the rain and I only want to save myself, from these feelings, from you, and from wanting you. Because at this very moment, I want so badly for these feelings to vaporize, because for once, I don’t want you; I want your friendship, and I would be very much content and happy to be your friend.