Over the weekend my friends rescued a kitten from what appeared to be a sad, cold, wet, flea-bitten, and lonely life. They took him home, gave him a bath and named him. (There is a thesis level project in the power of “name” somewhere. I hope to find it in the coming years.) Oreo the Adoreoable couldn’t stay in their foster care permanently because this big-hearted family already has two cats, two dogs, 12 chickens and three kids. Not to mention that they also play host to a community of people who eat all of their food, drink all of their wine/coffee/beer, and crash on all their comfortable furniture. Their hearts were open, but their house was full.
I saw this face – those pointy, but Dumbo-y ears complete with old man hair, his eyes that sometimes cross (although you can’t see it in this photo), and his pink nose, then somehow threw caution to the wind and said, “Yes” to making my home his permanent one. Who am I? I wondered to myself, in texts to friends and family, and on Instagram as I added to the chorus of cat videos out there in the world. My mom answered, “You’ve become the aunt with cats.” I cried.* I never imagined that I would be the aunt with cats. That I would have cats. That I would have a cat. That I would love a cat and then see a picture of another cat that looks like that first cat’s baby and long to have that cat join my family. That I would consider that cats can join families. That I would take pictures of cats. That I would buy cat food and wine at the grocery store in the same trip and talk to strangers about it. Alas. Here we are. I am the aunt with cats. And maybe it’s not so bad. I’m the aunt, which means I’m the sister and the friend and I am surrounded by interesting, funny, weird, creative, smart kids who challenge my pride, my hope, my uncertainty, and my imagination all the time. And, obviously now I have cats (two, just two, mom) and they are seriously adorable. Also, I think there’s hope that I might discover something that can transport some of those kids (and maybe one of the cats!) into another reality where Lions talk and rings rule and magic makes life better because everyone knows that all those writers had cats – which was obviously the secret to their story-telling power? If not, then at least it’s an acceptably mediocre title for a memoir – “The Aunt with Cats.” I would read that. Would you?
*Footnote (10.17.13): My mom and my sister AS messaged me after reading this concerned that my feelings were hurt by them calling me “the aunt with cats” and begging me to not become “the crazy cat lady.” I felt I needed a footnote to let them and all of you know that when I wrote “I cried” it was as short as those two words. I did not (thank you for this image other sister MH) “sit on the floor in my house sobbing while petting my cats for comfort pondering my life and how it went wrong.” I was actually sitting at the table doing algebra at midnight prepping for the GRE thinking about how life looks different from how I imagined. I lamented that for a moment, then snapped out of it because thank goodness my life looks different from how I imagined. If it all turned out as 8 year old me planned, I wouldn’t have this warm house at the heart of KCMO filled with people I love (and two cats that I love) in a community that I love. In short, thank you for your loving concern. I am a-ok. And also, I can totally do algebra. Yes!