Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Missy Kissy: A New Ritual and More Baby Talk

It could have been the first visit to Raleigh after I moved to NJ when Abby started a new routine/ritual of licking my face just before we went to sleep while we were in bed. If this didn’t start on the first visit, it definitely started within the first few visits after the move. When I lived in Raleigh, Abby always slept with me. At first she slept at the head of the bed pressed tightly against my face but eventually she started sleeping at the foot of the bed on the right side of the bed while I slept on the left side. I suspect Abby needed her space, and she may also have been trying to put some distance between her and my snoring. She could also have been avoiding me because in my sleep, I thrash around in the bed, so much so that I will kick off the sheets and have them in a tangled up mess by morning. There were a few times when I accidentally hit Abby in my sleep.

After I moved, or at least for a few months, Abby slept in my mom’s room either on the bed towards the foot of the bed, or if the night was warm, she would sleep on the ground where it was a little cooler especially on the hardwood floors. However when I would visit, Abby would spend the night in my old room—her old room as well. Something my mom had done in the four or five weeks I was in NJ was to rearrange the furniture in my old bedroom. The bed no longer abutted the wall and was now in the middle of the room. Aesthetically, the rearranged room was better than the cluttered mess I made the room into during my stay there. It sorta hurt my feelings that she changed the room so fast. But this wasn’t as traumatic for me as when I when to college in my undergrad days and what she did to my old room at that time. Then, I moved my stuff in two car loads. The first load was a few days before the start of classes. The second load was to be two weeks later when I came back during Labor Day when I had more time to complete the 340 mi round trip. When I entered my room to pick up belongings for the second load, my mom had not only rearranged the furniture in my room but she had remodeled it by buying new curtains, painting it and replacing my posters with some prints she recently purchased. It was if I had not been in that room which I had grown up in. When my mom got a notion to decorate a room, she didn’t dawdle around and completed her task with an avid enthusiasm. She was like a mechanism—a decorating machine.

Back to Abby’s new ritual. On the first night of a visit, Abby would face me, place her paws on my chest and start to lick my face. She would keep licking my face for a few minutes. She never did this when I was living in Raleigh, or at least in bed like that. She also never put her paws on my chest that way either. I still don’t know why she did this. Could it simply be because she missed me? Was she somehow trying to ‘mark’ me? Was she trying to absorb the scents I had picked up from my new home? After the licking was over, she would return to her normal place at the right of the foot of the bed and fall asleep.

I described this ritual as the ‘missy kissy.’ It was a combination of the words ‘miss’ + ‘kiss’ but in the form of ‘baby talk.’ One other note about this routine was not only did Abby do this on the first night of my return during a visit, but she would not do this on the subsequent nights of a particular visit. I never could understand this behavior of Abby’s but it was a bonding moment that we didn’t share with anyone else. I’m not averse to playing favorites.

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