Friday, May 8, 2009

What's In A Name: Edie (My Sorrowful But Wonderful Association With An Edie)

Edie Brickell
It is common for names to affect one's personality, as studies have shown. Hard to say just how much someone is affected, yet somehow we find proof of it everywhere in terms of characteristics or qualities that are sometimes attributed to a name.

But someone's fate be sealed by a name? Can a name lead to a tragic life? This is what I can't help but wonder about the name Edith, Edie for short. The name already conjures up several tragic figures at it's mere mention. Hard not to notice, since in our recent history, and in the films devoted to their stories, we have had three (or four, depending on how you figure it) different Edie story depictions.
Edith Piaf
But I have personal investment in the name Edie that makes this phenomenon all the more strange and sad for me. About eight years ago, I adopted an adorable, tortoiseshell kitten from a shelter in Brooklyn to scare away rodents in the loft I lived in on Bedford Avenue. This became a requirement, if not a suggestion, from the building owner. I lived with two guys in a three bedroom place, but I ended up taking responsibility for bringing home a cat. I planned to adopt a mature kitty, but the people at the shelter thrust on me this tiny kitten –– the runt of the group –– because she was always getting shoved by the others, and wasn't getting her fair share of food. She was so small she couldn't take over the way the others did. I instantly fell for her, and she seemed to fluff up and brighten as I held her. I knew I had to adopt her. I took her back and everyone else fell in love with her too. And boy, did she enjoy being the center of attention, the center of the world as she knew it! Especially mine. I was instantly her friend, protector, guardian, and mom, and I don't think I ever felt that purity of heart from any creature before or since –– the amount of love she had for me, that she displayed in ways that were so pronounced, was the most touching thing I will ever experience.
'Little Edie' Beale
When she finally had her own space, and food bowl, she transformed. This tiny kitten literally started bouncing up in the air, up to about five or six feet in the air to our amazement, from pure joy. We thought she became a superhero. The way she was flying up into the air, right off the ground was the most peculiar and amazing thing. My roommate and I could not believe the energy of this little feline. To this day I can't describe the flips and bounces she was suddenly doing –– just near magical feats from her inner joy. I was trying to decide on the perfect name for her. Somehow I came to Edie. It just felt right, and I was quick to tell anyone who asked that she is NOT named after Edie Sedgwick, no, no, no –– but Edie Brickell, who I was listening to a lot at the time, and whose life is not known for tragedy. Brickell was someone I associated with fun, cheerfulness and joy. And that was my little Edie. 

One day, only a week or two after she was living with us, I came home and playful, happy little Edie was hiding under a table and wouldn't come out. I called to her and when I found her I saw her crouched there, her eyes so frightened. I had no idea what happened, but I was scared and worried. When I tried to bring her out, I realized she was hurt –– she made little shrieking noises and her eyes bulged even more. We put the pieces together and realized she was still so small but such a daredevil that she must have climbed the wide loft stairs up to the top bedroom, and somehow fallen down. Seemed likely since she had recently experimented with the stairs. I was terribly distraught and tried to explain to little Edie that she would be fine. I could tell that she was still so young and inexperienced that this injury, and the pain (in her ribs) had broken her spirit and she thought she'd never be okay again... She had been crouched in pain for hours, which must have seemed an eternity.
Edie Sedgwick
I carefully placed her in her carrier with a blanket and quickly took her to the nearest emergency veterinarian –– which was fortunately just blocks away and happened to be holistic, and amazing. Edie received acupuncture right then and there (I couldn't believe this luck), some little pills for me to administer to her for a few days with her food, and in a few days time she really was completely okay, physically –– just as I'd promised her she'd be. But she had changed, because somewhere in her heart, that incredible zeal for life she had discovered after being tortured by the other kittens at the shelter –– then brought home to have her own big space and comfort –– was lost again, and some of it was lost for good. Perhaps because it was in a state of excitement and joy that she had managed to get hurt, and that's what really stung her. She was still amazingly sweet, loving, grateful –– an angel so full of love I was forever touched by her. But she had faced the dark side of life, and now she was sober. At her sweet, young joyful age, she had become wise to pain and strife.

Right before Edie came into my life, September 11 happened. My roommates and I watched the second tower go down before our eyes from the rooftop. After a few months, circumstances led for each of the roommates to begin to depart from that loft, and I found a place nearby that was just right. I moved there with Edie. And each day it was the same, just my presence seemed to give her such joy, and it was a wonderful thing to have her around. Whereas cats are usually independent, Edie was more like a dog or a child, she needed to see me there, all the time. A few months later, the landlady, who lived right next door, told me that the apartment I lived in would need to be worked on –– so I would have to move out. But she liked me, and said had a room for me in her own home next door, another brownstone building with rooms she rented (but where she lived) with one catch: as much as she adored Edie, Edie couldn't live there with me because her male cat lived there, and he would not like for there to be an additional feline on the premises. But she offered a solution –– Edie could stay in the building I was moving from, and live with her son in one of the other apartments there. So I would be neighbors with Edie, and could visit her anytime. Seemed that I didn't have much choice in the matter, and it could work –– temporarily at least.

But my being away from her was difficult for Edie. She felt abandoned and every time I visited her in my landlady's son's apartment, she had that same overjoyed and about-to-burst-at-the-seams reaction. Her body language and her eyes asked me to please stay, don't leave again, please. She was not happy with the change, despite being treated with kindness and fed well, her reaction to me was always the same as time went on with the new arrangement –– she didn't seem to adjust and I could tell she just wanted to be with me all the time. It pains me to recall this, but thinking about her always brought me back to this "Edie connection" I've since had to ponder.

I moved away from New York, and she stayed there, and she had finally adjusted and felt at home –– but I still think about Edie every day and any time I think about her I get choked up and need to cry. I can't really express it in words, but her purity and love, and the choices I had to make at that time, are still devastating to me. Not being able to keep her with me has been the biggest regret in my life. And I know I am lucky, really, to have such few regrets. But that sweet soul, she deserved all the love in the world. She had so much in her heart, she seemed like she'd explode, and she only wanted to give it all to me. I should have sought another option and made a different decision, for both of us, though at the time those decisions seemed right. But I won't ever get past it.

The following Edie B. song "Love Like We Do" is what Edie's true nature was for me, and how our wonderful life was together for a while... Me and that unforgettable, loving spirit I was lucky enough to know. What surprised me even more is how the video –– with animated drawings by Edie Brickell herself –– is completely reminiscent of my little Edie, too. The kitty in this could have been her. I didn't see this video until years later, after naming her for Edie Brickell. It's a chilling coincidence that the video should have a kitty like my Edie in it.

No comments:

Post a Comment