Every Saturday morning, Mom drove Petra and I to ballet. Petra’s class started first, so I sat in a small waiting room downstairs on a hard bench covered in a rectangle of cheap beige carpet.
One day, a brown-haired boy with a pleasant, slightly rat-like face passed by in his ballet clothes. He glanced into the room and went on his way.
After a minute, he returned and stared me down from the doorway. Then he walked into the room, picked up the trash can and emptied its contents over my head. He seemed satisfied with his decision, so he repeated it every week.
“Ever been to Jiufen?” I asked Mom.
“You should go! It has a nice view of the sea. It’s supposed to be the city that inspired Spirited Away. And they have the best gweh I’ve ever tasted - your favorite, with taro and the green one with radish or whatever the chewy stuff is.”
She looked skeptical. “How did you get there? You don’t speak the language.”
Two orange tabby brothers followed us home in December. They lived with us for five weeks, snuggling, wrestling, running around like madmen and punching each other in the face, until their owners saw our “found” signs (which had been posted in front of their house for weeks).
Chupa misses them a ton. They shredded furniture, ate my expensive paintbrushes, pawed wet paintings and shoved my brush around whenever I painted, but they were cute and soft fuzzballs.