Today my fourteen-year old cat is going to her final vet appointment. She is not dying, let me be very clear. She is getting her final paperwork and check-up so that tomorrow evening, she can board an Aer Lingus flight and make her long, lonely journey here to us. It will be the only time she has flown cargo, and will not be accompanied by either me or Sascha, though she has flown many, many times.
At this point in my life, most of my friends, post-having children, think their cats are assholes. But despite having kids, I love her more, not less.
I can remember getting her in my last year of college. My two very good friends, who told us all they were “definitely broken up,” both had cats. The jig was up that they were definitely not just friends when her cat impregnated his. (Apparently a result of spending so many nights at each others’ apartments that they starting bringing their pets, too.) Our friendship circle would implode a bit several years later, but many of us have the cats from this illicit time. I had no idea what my life would look like in fourteen years, but I knew she would be with me.
I left her once. I remember zigzagging the freeways in Los Angeles, the great curving bow of road to change from the 10 to the 405 so I could get to the Westside. Everything that was left of my possessions was piled into the Teal Mobile. Sashi was just a year and she meowed from her cage in the passenger seat. As I often did in those days, I cried on those swift streets, grateful for the privacy that my car and the freeways at that hour allowed. I wasn’t sure of what I was doing, but I was doing it anyway. I had to leave, and I was going to Japan. I could not bring her, and I was young and selfish and desperate enough to leave her. My then-boyfriend took her.
We crossed many miles since then including one cross-country drive by car (an ill-advised journey arising from an ill-advised relationship.) She brought me roaches in her mouth from my first Brooklyn apartment; in the same apartment, she ran under the bed when I shrieked at the mouse that had run over my foot. In another apartment, she was the sole witness to a break-in. In Brooklyn Heights, she was happy to sleep up high in our loft bed.
We brought her to the desert because we could: all pets were allowed in the bungalows at 29 Palms Inn.
In Los Angeles, she napped beside my ever-growing belly.
I’ll never forget how startled she was one evening, when we were all in the king sized bed after bringing the boys home. Sascha and I had the boys on our chests; I think we were doing “skin-to-skin.” Suddenly, G and C began squirming and she realized, They’re alive!
She and I have seen some times.
So. Yes I have two children and a husband whom I love and adore, but it was extremely hard for me to leave Sashi this time. As we forge our path as a new family, she is part of us. Perhaps she has become even more important as our lives destabilized and we’ve longed to create a permanent home in an industry and an economy that make it nearly impossible. But the rules for importing an animal are very strict. There were two more months before she would be eligible to enter the country after Sascha’s job needed us here or else she would be quarantined.
I do know that no place could be home without the warm insistence of her spine, curled like a comma against my own. I know that she belongs here with us, though she will stalk the back wall of glass to the garden, yowling at the neighborhood cats who jump over walls and onto the roof–the cats that tolerate the boys’ excited yelps better than she.
BREAKING NEWS: I wrote the above this morning, then picked up the boys and put them down for a nap in time to call my brother-in-law at the vet to check in. And after many frantic trans-Atlantic calls, hiring an extremely expensive service to transport her and having her departure finely choreographed, and enlisting the generous help of my in-laws, we have some bum luck: Of all things, the new microchip implanted back in April is apparently defective and unreadable by two different vets’ scanners, meaning the 6-month rabies titre paperwork will not matter. If she cannot be identified through this chip that is listed on all her papers, she will not be allowed in. I am heartbroken.
Thank you Gramby and Papa for giving her such a swank home on the UWS, free from squealing, grabbing toddlers. And thank you Louie for running around the city and trying to make something happen. Dear Irish Agriculture Department, please give us a special pre-authorization to allow our cat to come home.