sula is here!

Sula is finally here! She arrived with the storm, blowing in on a breeze. She was supposed to arrive Friday, but hurricane Dennis cancelled her flight. You could tell something was brewing in the water. When I stepped outside, a curtain of heat settled moist on my skin, making it tough to breathe. The wind kicked up around midnight, as did the rain--a steady torrent that pounded so hard, you couldn't hear individual drops. I got a whiff of the breeze, tangy like seawater. The wind rose and fell like a living thing breathing. The next morning, the roof was dribbling leaks. The lawn was carpeted with broken branches and the oaks were still swaying, as though underwater. A buffo toad croaked and then a bang went off, as if on cue. This could only mean one thing--the electric was kaput, along with our running water.

I washed my hair in the pool, getting pelted with warm and salty raindrops (Ever swim in a storm? There's something relaxing about the silver skies--no angry sun beating my skin--and the feeling of moving through water, both above and below).

What a strange welcome reception for the kitten--with thick black wires snaking along the floor, rigged to a gas-guzzling generator that growled like a lawn mower. We left for the airport, wondering what she would think of her chaotic new home.

The "cargo" section of Miami International was gloomy and industrial. We bumped over train tracks and zipped past factories swarming with graffiti. Up a ramp that looked like it might take us back to the highway. Around what appeared to be a parking garage. Rows of identical offices, like something out of the movie, Brazil. The place looked abandoned. We found building 701, Continental Airline (on the phone, calling for directions, I listened to an endless recording that said things like, "Press one for circus animals, press two for French Bulldogs..."

The elevator opened to empty hallways and psychedelic carpet. I couldn't picture my kitten, lost and alone in the belly of an ear-piercing airplane--probably thinking she'd been abandoned. I found the right office and there she was on the desk---cowering in her "pet taxi" in a pile of shredded newspaper, her marbled blue eyes wide with terror. "Live Animal" said the tag on her carrier.

I wrapped her in a silky Chinese blanket and held her all the way home. She fell asleep in the crook of my elbow, purring. For a while, she felt safe inside the carrier with her new blanket. But today, she's out exploring the living room, testing her teeth on all things chewable (or not, including my fingers). She trots like a lion cub, her back legs wobbling. Her mew is raspy and frequent. If I leave the room for one second, she falls apart. She has two buttons--"on" and "off." When she's not leaping off the sofa, she's curled like a comma in my lap. She'll pour herself into tight spaces like liquid. Her favorite toy is her own tail. That and Soodi's old beanie toy, which not only resembles a Siamese kitten, but is just the same size. No doubt, Soodi is watching over her. Or at least, I'd like to think so.