In this photo you are holding Katniss, a little black furball of love and instinct. She sits serenely in your arms, knowing that is all she ever need do to be happy. She’s wearing a little baby’s sweater for the Purdue Boilermakers – the Athletics team there – in a little school-pride display neither of you – or me! – ever particularly cared for. I’m not sure, but I think you’re wearing a Purdue jumper too. It’s pink in its writing and grey in everything else. You’d think grey were a colour for us but it’s the colour of the skies we walk under in slow happiness.
So you’re both wearing Purdue merch in Philadelphia. It’s cold, a fact evident not just from your hoodies but from that plastic bag of catnip next to you. Somehow I can only picture Katniss, the little rug, eating that catnip with a fire crackling merrily away in the fireplace behind you, even though there’s no such thing anywhere in the house.
You’re smiling at me. A happy mother to a happy cat, waiting to marry a happy man. Your hair is just right – it flows across one eye and back, clearing your cheek and resting over your shoulder, like that of a nonchalant teen. Your head tilted in just that way to nestle Katniss close to you, simultaneously cocking it sweetly at me. Did you stage this? If you were self-conscious, you would have fussed. But you weren’t, and you didn’t. So you lived the life, in that brief moment, you wanted from me, and my eyes drank it up.
This room, messy as it is (yes, it is!) might as well be our coffee shop: you might be sitting in a wooden, smoothly polished chair, while a family discusses their daughter’s future behind you. I might be in one just the same, frowning over my latte at my tablet screen. Maybe the catnip is cookie crumbs from that little baked snack we share – and is that a fireplace on the back red brick wall there?
The things in common are you and me, and this is where we’re going. Hot drinks in cold climes, we can load through life together, working with each other and, in the gaps between the busy-ness, just a bit of coffee in between.