A door closed on me

I rememeber the day when Umber arrived  home perfectly.

Dad left her in front of the door of my room one dreary October afternoon: a door closed for months now, ready to redraw the impassible borders that I had set between them and me, me and the others, myself and I. 

He knocked -he always tried- but at my lack of response –as usual- he left silently without lingering.

However this time, what followed was different, because the door did not remain closed: after the sound of the rubber shoes there was a miao, like a complaint, that pushed me to open the barrier behind which, stupidly, I stubbornly hid for a long time, convinced that evil was lurking outside that barrier; I found, on the white marble step, a shoe box of a well-known brand found who-knows-where, a brown coloured box faded by time. Inside there was a hastily and badly written message.

Inside the box there was a little kitten. The kitten remained nameless only briefly, because my compulsion to label everything led me to play with the word printed imposingly on the box: Lumberjack. From there I found the name for the little ball of fur that looked at me with sweet and frightened eyes: Umber. 

I don’t really know what led my father to bring her home, and I never asked where he found her, but it is to that act that I owe my rebirth.

She was little, so little that the few centimeters that made up the box seemed too big for her. Too big but not too much: in a moment of distraction, there was a light thud and there she was crawling on the old wine-coloured carpet, getting her paws tangled up in the fringe of the carpet and tumbling in her ever-so-clumsy way that mademe smile, finally. 

It was easy to recognise my father’s hand-writing on that unlined paper. The blue ink took the form of a quote by Calvino:

“If you raise a wall, think about what you leave outside”.

Someone had said that the beating wings of a butterfly in Texas sufficed to create a tornado on the other side of the world: that tumble was the beating pair of wings that created my tornado, it was the push that moved me, that made me lose my balance. I shortly began to think about my sad situation, about how I was hurting my body, and above all, my mind, in the black hole where I had lost myself for a year. I thought about the tears and sobs of my mother, that silently mingled with mine during the night, passing through the walls that separated our rooms but not our hearts. I thought about the empty bottles, the empty plates, the broken ones and my relapses: the strength with which Umber tipped the box over shook me out of my deep reverie of nightmares which had sucked me in. 

The tumble, the fall, the rising up: a sequence made of three parts managed to give me back me will to go on, to smile, to live.

I planted my feet on the ground, I got out of bed, I took some steps as if I had never walked before and held Umber in my hands, with the intention of taking care of her from then on, not knowing that, now that the wall that I had built around me was torn down, I would start taking care of someone else too: myself.