progress is a cat wearing shoes

I am making progress. 

Last night, I dreamed about a cat wearing shoes. Tiny, blue oxfords on his front paws. It was a cocktail party. We were all overdressed. 

I spent most of yesterday sitting on the floor in front of Exhibition Hall B on Level 3 of the Boston Convention Center. It was portfolio day. My daughter stood in line with her paintings and drawings so that admissions representatives from art and design schools could offer feedback. She spoke with three schools in four hours. She spent the last hour waiting on line for a school she didn’t get to talk with. 

By the time we drove home, it was dark. I have become anxious about driving long distances at night. It took nearly an hour just to get out of the city. At the entrance to the expressway, where the traffic lights are on long delays, a man and a woman walk up and down the rows of cars holding out paper cups. I shift my gaze. I don’t mean to be unkind, but perhaps I am anyway. The road to hell, etc. 

We order in when I get home. We are all tired and the weekend has past so quickly. 

After dinner, I work feverishly. I have not felt this focused in some time. Two hours have passed before I even look up from my desk. 

The nights are getting cold. And the early mornings. I come down to my desk and wrap myself in a blanket. M. comes down soon after, leaves to run in the darkness. The house is so quiet. 

In the car, my daughter and I talk about when she was a child. She had a spotted coat and a stuffed cat that matched it. It was her favorite toy and she called it “Catty Cat.” She wore her hair in bangs cut straight across her forehead. The same cut I have now, she points out. 

We lived in New York then. I picture us walking down Third Avenue in the crisp late autumn air, just as winter approaches. She was tiny. She would walk the first block and then I would scoop her into her leopard print stroller and we’d head downtown to pass the morning at the library or if it was warm enough, the park. 

One afternoon, I met a woman at the playground who had a son my daughter’s age. We left the park and walked back uptown together. Her husband designed menswear. She ran book salons in her home on the upper west side. She gave me her phone number and said I should call. That I should come to one of the salons the next month. I planned to call, but I never did. 

I get an invitation in the mail to attend an event from a woman we knew when our daughters were in kindergarten. I will run into her occasionally, but we have not spent time together in years. She was depressed at the time, in the middle of a messy break-up. I write back, tell her I am sorry to miss it, but can you believe that our daughters are looking at colleges now? 

She writes back: No, no I cannot believe it. I used to think it was the stupidest thing when people said, “They grow up so fast, where has the time gone?”

But now I understand.