Broken

I was going to write about something else entirely today but sometimes life hands you surprises – or knocks them off shelves to crash at your feet.

As I mentioned several weeks ago, my apartment was flooded. The flood came from under the wall and didn’t get more than an inch or two deep; so I didn’t lose much in terms of personal property. However it did take out the floors of the bedroom, the hall, parts of the living room, and three closets. And it’s not resolved yet – the insurance companies are all pointing fingers at each other. Meanwhile, no work has been done, and the table leaves that were stored under the bed, the mattress and box spring, all the books from the five Billy bookcases, and everything stored on the floors of the closets is piled up in the living room and we’re camped out in the guest room.

The Cat has taken it pretty well, all things considered (“all things” = “she is a cat”). However, the living room and guest room are not cat-proofed the way that the bedroom was. And The Cat is a minimalist – she really should be living in one of those super-modern houses, where all the kitchen cabinets and appliances are hidden behind sleek doors and the living room contains one Eames chair and a very solid rock masquerading as sculpture in the corner by the window. Instead, The Cat lives with my husband, me, and our pottery collection, which pre-dates The Cat. In her early days, before we realized that This Cat is a cat like no other cat before (as they all are), we lost an Egyptian bowl, a Thai dragon, and uncountable wine glasses, mugs, bowls, and cups. As we got wiser and adapted — and The Cat aged — the breakages slowed and The Cat hadn’t broken anything in a while.

Until today. And, if you want her side of the story, The Cat technically didn’t knock the bowl to the floor. She just knocked it off the shelf onto the table leaves, which are leaning on end against the book case where we keep the pottery. And I, not noticing it resting precariously there, bumped into the table leaves in my early morning stupor and knocked the bowl to the floor, breaking it.

My mind first went to the Zen koan about the general and his tea cup.

Then I remembered another broken bowl, a gift from one of my employees because they knew i liked little bowls. This bowl used to rest on my desk at work, cradling some colorful marbles my college roommate had given me years before. Last spring, as I struggled against leaving my nice, safe rock, one of the maintenance men at work fell out of the sub-ceiling over my desk, followed by a huge chunk of concrete which smashed the bowl, gouged my desk and sprayed debris all over my office. I was elsewhere when it happened, but it was jarring just the same (Eddie was fine; I still found pulverized concrete in my files when I was packing up, nine months later).

The bowl in my office was a sign from the universe that I needed to Get Out – like the voice that hisses at the victims in a horror movie – and It wasn’t going to give me a break until I did.

Today’s bowl was just a beautiful bowl that said, “Move the table leaves, get out the museum paste again, and spend less time blogging and more time exercising The Cat.”

Goodbye, bowl.

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