Today I was walking down Michigan Avenue, in the middle of a very long day, lost in reverie when I heard an low, gravelly voice making some odd singsong noises. I turned around expecting to see a homeless person.
Instead, I saw a old-fashioned cat puppet inside a bright and tiny bicycle theater.
The cat puppet was frantically waving at me, trying to get my attention. It was waiting for me to wave back.
It was so incredibly sweet charming and unexpected. I was touched, straight to the heart. But I was too cool to wave back.
Instead I smiled - broadly - at the puppet and its invisible master, and was immediately transported back to some very early, long-gone memory, from before I had language (my brother and I had puppets that looked very much like this cat).
In the blink of an eye, the cat was joined by another puppet, and they began singing a song that was a favorite when I was four.
For a moment I was lost in the joy of the moment. The cat puppet had recognized me (probably because I was wearing a hat with cat ears).
And then I felt incredibly sad, remembering that more innocent time when everyone was still alive and natural reactions didn't have to be hidden, and had to walk away.
But then the smile came back. How I loved to see that little cat!
And the smile stayed on the face for the rest of the day.