I brought this tortie into my home in early 2005. She had a respiratory infection and was all sneezy & snotty. I was supposed to foster her for a month or two, get her healthy so she could find a better home with someone else. I opened the door to her carrier and instead of running for the nearest hiding spot she followed me around my condo, maybe studying my routine or happy to be in a home again after the long drive, being transferred to a new shelter.
I’m binge watching 24 that night, watching Jack Bauer torture terrorists to save America and this furball (Suzette was her given name, but that wouldn’t fly…let’s modify it to a cuter variation…Soozie!) jumps on my lap for the first time and curls up. I explain to her the intricacies of Jack Bauer when I’m hit with a poopie smell…this sick little kitty was leaking on me. I jumped up on shock–carefully of course, seeing how quickly she trusted me despite being very sick.
Two months later the shelter asked for her back and a wave of panic crashed into my gut. “Well, wait.” I said.
The foster care coordinator at the Humane Society replied, “Oh, you want to keep her?” she asked, clearly enthusiastic they had successfully manipulated another volunteer joining their “cat rental” program into becoming an owner instead of a renter.
Outwardly, I struggled with whether I wanted to give up my pure bachelor status, but the truth is the decision was made the day I brought her home.
I’ve had somewhere around two dozen pets in my life, bonding with them in different ways. Soozie was the first one I adopted living on my own. She would sleep in front of my guitar amp when I worked on heavy metal riffs. She would sit on the shelf above my monitor while I worked on music for a new project. I think she even cost me a few relationships from exes jealous that I was spending more time with her (you know the saying “if my pet doesn’t like you…”) She loved batting foil balls as well as my guitar students who would toss them to her while waiting for lessons in my living room.
I could write a novel about this cat, and I have enough photos to publish a coffee table book, but you get the point. My parents did an awesome job teaching me to love animals, so I was well-prepared to love this one the hardest.
As I cry my eyes out over one of my best friends no longer available to give and receive love I try to remember everything I got out of the relationship. A break from stressful events. An endless source of entertainment, be it her chatter or chasing laser pointers…or eventually giving me the “you got anything better?” look when the game grew stale. Better decision making in moments of anger, when I considered actions with consequences. Is it worth losing access to my friendship with Soozie to indulge in that retaliation? Not for a second.
(You can dial down your imagination–I’m just making a point!)
I think about that Pixar movie Soul and the scene where the main character realizes the defining moments of his life are the simplest ones rather than the ones he fantasizes about. Many of mine involve Soozie. 🙂