Going back means revisiting past church cat Toms - this entry in particular, written after J.D. Salinger's death when Tom, firmly believing he is as good a catcher in the rye as anyone, takes an imaginary trip to the writer's home:
I met him years ago but I don't remember
how or when.
I do recall wandering a long, overgrown drive thinking how his crowd of admirers had turned into a company of weeds. But, that was the whole point. I stopped to take in the house on the hilltop. That, too, appeared left to its own devices.
You wouldn't think someone like me, short and covered in fur would have easy access to one of the greatest writers of our time and a recluse, at that. But, I did. All I needed was a doorstep.
"Well, what have we here?"
He unlatches the door to let me in. There are papers everywhere. Magazines. Books. One without a cover. I notice the door has a cat flap.
"Haven't seen you around here."
Mr. Salinger, I came specially to see you. I must discuss writing.
As with those who constantly converse with inner thoughts, he is in tune with mine.
"Write for the fun of it," he says, shuffling over to the cabinet. He wore his aura like a cloak.
What about recognition?
I knew this was a sore spot, but I had to ask.
"Well--" His voice became hesitant yet at the same time contained a vehemence restrained. "It's something you need as a writer but can't control it once you get it."
There were sardines now heaped upon a saucer with tiny white flowers in a blue border. As I ate, I thought about what he said. It was true. If I became famous, it would change everything, every part of my life. I picked up the last crumb of fish.
It can still be enjoyable, can't it?
I looked up. He had left me alone.
I turned the corner and entered a cozy area filled with ever more papers, books, and pillows in dazzling, reflected light. My famous author and benefactor was absorbed in his work. There was a calm, as if he were some creative sculptor absorbed in the modeling of his own imaginative clay.
I turned to leave.
"Write for the joy," I heard behind me.
I smile as only a cat can, with backside for emphasis, a gesture to which he can undoubtedly relate.