Q&A is the journal that asks one question per day and over the five years you build little snippets of your day to day life. You write a short sentence at the end of the day inside this cute, compact, gold edged journal. It dresses up your mundane into memory. When I flipped through the pages the first question I saw was “What can’t you bear to throw away?”
I put my cat down in January. I still have a bottle of his antihistamines in my purse. That’s what I can’t bear to throw away.
I know this is supposed to be a book review about a journal, but it might largely be about cataloging the things in my life that are absent. I have noticed Fred’s absence in my life and now I would tolerate a ton of hair in my mouth to hang out with him for an afternoon. I don’t cry when I walk past the pet food aisle anymore, but I can’t part with these two yellow pills clattering in the orange bottle, taking up valuable real estate in my purse. Fred took up valuable real estate in my life and without him it’s gone to seed.
I hope next year when I flip to this page the answer is something along the lines of “this great brand of chapstick I found” or “a wine coupon I will probably never use.” I don’t know if I hope that these pills will still be in my purse. Fred was about 15 when he was put down, and he’d been ailing for a few weeks. I adopted him when he was 10 and this cat was my first adult pet. He was a cranky, loud curmudgeon and we were crazy about each other. He had a great resting bitch face. He moved with me first from my shitty apartment in rural Ohio to my mother’s basement in New Hampshire, and them across the country to California. He spent 15 hours in a cat carrier for 5 days until we got to our new home in Oakland. We were on an adventure together and he never complained. Er…well that’s not entirely true but his complaints were valid. He spooned with me every night and demanded snuggles. Fred Astaire was my buddy. My friends loved him and he loved them, welcoming them to my apartment with fanfare and promptly showing them his butthole. In some ways he was the funniest character I ever wrote. I miss him every day. My cat is dead. Now I am alone in my apartment and every week I will clean it. Eventually it will be like he was never there at all and it weighs on me. Walking out of that vet clinic with an empty cat carrier was like living in a Tom Waits song, as was throwing away a cat box and cat treats for a pet you no longer have. Fred, you are loved and missed.