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CATRISE

Dreamed 2000/2/21, painted 2002 (acrylic on wood, 3x4 feet), by Chris Wayan

I'm sitting in the cafeteria of my new high school, which is in a rich, quiet, California suburb called Palo Alto. A bunch of kids tease me, but I'm used to that by now, and answer the questions I hear under the teasing. I'm getting used to their monkey curiosity now, if not enjoying it...

To reward myself, I lope out into the sunny atrium, full of flowers. I feel so good I start to float into the air! Kids whisper and watch. I finally get out from under the eaves and feel warm sun on my back and rise more easily--my old powers are returning. Lost them a while, stressed out by this new, foreign school, the only cat among primates. I have a big party balloon tied around my waist, just to convince humans, who might find it upsetting I can swim through air (though not fly like a bird--not yet) with no logical, scientific explanation. As if anything people do has a logical explanation! But apes like reasons.

Wearing a token balloon and wrap skirt, I fly in the Paly High quad, without quite thinking about it... till they all stare at me.
I worry my classmates will look up under my stupid wrap skirt--though in fact this isn't unique to flying, it's always a problem, because my tail gets in the way. Jeans are hopeless, and even skirts are confining unless I wear a slit skirt with the slit in back, or cut out a hole, and it's hard to slip your tail through against the grain of my fur. Rubs me the wrong way--literally. Since I'm covered with fur anyway, the easiest is just to wear only an apron if I need pockets, or go nude--if you stared rudely I guess you might see a bit much, but really, I'm not nearly so naked as humans at the beach--all that bare skin! I've just been trying to look more human so they won't stare, and what's the point? They still do.
My classmates stare as I levitate in our high school quad...
Now that I think of it, that balloon and that skirt are just the same, aren't they? They're just things tied around my waist to pacify humans. When I'm fine and whole without them.

As I rise from the atrium, stretching in the sun, I start to purr, and the view gets broader, past the school across town... and my mind's view, too, broadens--I think back over the last year or so, and realize I've explored a lot more new things than I realized, lost in the daily maze. Made a lot of progress in songwriting too...

But I've tried so hard to fit in, wasted so much energy on human things.

When as soon as I bare my nonhumanity... I can soar.

I'm


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