Flying the Coop

Today I say good bye to my little mate, Jessie. We have a brief history in the scheme of things. I adopted her from my sister’s brood 2 and a half years ago, and she has been my little sidekick ever since.

In my preparation for moving to the states, I am moving out of my apartment in a few weeks, and Jessie needs a new home. I have spent months asking everyone I know if they would like to adopt her (and a few I don’t know – can’t go back to that petrol station on the corner, because the woman thought I was weird when I asked her if she wanted to adopt an adult cat). No luck.

In a desperate measure I put her in the online classifieds. And today a little girl called Amelia, and her mum Kylie, are coming to meet her, fall in love with her, and take her to her new home. The arrangements were only made yesterday, so last night when I got home, I busily set about packing up all her stuff. Like Barbie, she comes with all her own accessories: toys, bed, scratching post, food stuff, grooming stuff, medical history, cat door, litter tray.

She is an astute little thing. She knew something was up and kept asking me why I was assembling all her things in the living room. “Hey, this is mine,” she meowed as she scratched on her post. She looked from her sheepskin bed to me and back again. “What’s this doing out here? What’s going on?”

Truth is, I am a little heartbroken, and I only realised why this morning, when she was extra cuddly as we lounged in bed a few minutes after the alarm. Jessie is the one being in my life who I see every day. Weekday or weekend, morning or night. She has been someone to talk to, for if you live alone and have a cat, you converse a lot. It is generally a one-sided conversation, but on occasion, she utters a meow in response.

And I don’t know if I am just ultra-sensitive to her at the moment, but I am pretty sure she has been going out of her way to be extra cute today. She has done the whole, ‘How cute am I when I roll on my back like a puppy?’ thing waaayyy more than she usually does.

Putting things in perspective I have thought of two important things. Firstly, in a short time, I will have someone else to tell my day to, to cuddle with and to greet in the morning. It is also likely that this new someone won’t demand dinner the moment I walk in the door at the end of the day. (I hope.)

And secondly, I am only reaping the karma sown many years ago, when I announced to my parents at the wise age of 18, “I am moving back to America.” I meant ‘by myself’, and I also meant at the time, ‘for good’. And no matter how much I know that broke their hearts a little, they supported me through a year and a half of working, saving, preparing and packing. They took me to the airport, and my grandmother told me later that my dad almost fell back against her after I went through the gate. He hadn’t let me see that; he had only waved me off with a smile, allowing me to pretend to be brave, and to have to the support and freedom to do what I wanted.

‘For good’ was actually a year and 9 months. I returned. My family and friends were happy. I lived my life, and then at 26 announced, “I am moving to London.” I meant ‘for good’, and I would be joining my sister who had been there three years already. Again the support came thick and fast, although I am fairly certain there was sadness too.

‘For good’ that time was a year and 6 months. I returned. My family and friends were happy. I lived my life, and then at 31 announced, “I am moving to Sydney.” I meant, ‘for a while, to try it out, to see if I like it’, and I have lived here ever since. My next birthday is 40, and I am leaving again – this time to Seattle – maybe ‘for a while’, maybe ‘for good’. Time will tell. But the pattern is clear. Decade by decade, I need to make a major move (that is a whole other discussion, though).

Getting back to Jessie and the highly convoluted analogy I am drawing. Even though it is my decision (she is a cat, she can hardly make these decisions for herself), I know that she must go today. She needs a home here in Australia with people who will love her. And they will. They will love how she is not a morning cat, but gets up anyway to see them off for the day, her eyes half closed and sleepy. They will love how she takes someone lying down as an invitation to lay on top of them. They will love how she rolls around on her back and says, “Come tickle my tummy.” And they will love how she loves them.

She has been a great little mate, and I am grateful to have had the past two and a half years with her.

And importantly, I also want to say I am grateful to the three amazing parents I have, who always let me go and always welcome me home. And I am grateful for the person who waits across the world in the home he is making for us.

Grateful, but sad today.

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