The last weekend of Christmas break was a big one for me. I knew I was making a trek back to a city that now had become my own. I knew I was extremely happy with parts of my life and not as content with others. I knew there were some major things that had to change in order for me to continue going down the path I had chosen. I made a pact with myself to start seeing a therapist again, spend more time with people who cared, and consider putting an animal in my home.
Yes, the third one seems out there. However, it may have been the most important one. I’ve grown up with animals in my home my entire life. Cats, dogs, goats, horses, chickens, and more have made their way onto the porch, through the front doors, and into the living rooms of countless houses that my family had inhabited. I had never really experienced life without the constant ruckus of a dog trotting down the hardwood floors, a cat chasing a ball down the hall, or horses nickering in the barn outside my bedroom window. I had never really experienced the silence of a house without animals until I had the opportunity to rent my own.
My two bedroom house creaks and moans in the winter weather. Its pre-lead paint restriction building date adds character and horror to it. The sharp drop off the back porch into the unknown bamboo forest throws in a little charm and closeness of wild animals. My house is adorable, the colors plastered on the cracking walls are bright and cheerful. The comparably big kitchen and new appliances are great for learning to cook and hosting friends for dinner and brunch. The screen porch offers a great hang out place when the weather isn’t five below, and the living room hosts a super comfy tan reclining couch. I love my house. But, for months my house was eerily silent after the parties died down, the lights shut off, and I headed for bed. No dog trotted on my wooden floors, no cats chased balls down the halls, and the horses were far off at a farm nickering outside someone elses bedroom window.
So the last weekend of Christmas break I called my sister and said the words I had been dreading, “I think I’m ready to start looking for a dog.” She squealed in delight like we were five and someone had just dropped off a new pony. The whirlwind began. I started flipping through humane society pages, looking on petfinder, and searching animal control. I had very specific requirements and I knew it might take months, maybe even a year, to find the right dog for my picky style. I had half hoped to handicap myself by making my requirements so strict. Then I found the ad. The little fuzzy jack matched all of my stringent requirements. I called, made an appointment to see her that Sunday and the lady from animal control was happier than I was, she told me things like, “I have a good feeling about this!” and “You are going to be the perfect match, I can tell.” I wasn’t impressed.
The next morning I saw two kittens outside the neighbor’s house. I have always been a huge cat fan. If forced to choose I would choose cat over dog every time. I obviously headed towards the kittens. The man who lived in the house had passed away earlier in the month and I was concerned that he potentially had left some house guests behind. As I approached the kittens they darted into a hole and retreated to their home in the basement of the old house. I was headed somewhere with Padre so I let the kittens be. I couldn’t help but keep thinking about them. I decided I was going to go back for them, armed with some cans of food in attempts to catch them. I prepared myself for the idea that there would probably be more than two living in the basement, and warned myself that two kittens was max capacity for someone on my income, size house, and living situation.
I headed back to the house and after a quick chat with the son of the deceased man I was armed with cat food and keys to the basement and the knowledge that there would be a few cats down there and I could have which ever ones I wanted. I opened the door to the basement and was half shocked, half horrified by what I found. Dozens of kittens fled from the basement. In my shock and awe I started to grab at them, hisses and claws emitted from the little grey I grabbed, the next one looked a little bit too young for me to take on the road trip back to my house. Then a little black cat with huge snotty eyes meowed at me and walked towards me, I’ll take you with me I thought as I scooped her up. As a similar sized tortoiseshell ran past I grabbed her from behind. I brought them back to Padre’s and gave them some food and water and threw them in a crate for transport.
Today I’m sitting here in my bed, writing this blog, Ted Talk playing in the background, fuzzy purple blanket over my body, head on a Tinkerbell pillow, I have one cat snuggled on my shoulder, a dog between my legs, and the other cat in a ball by my hip. There are now animals in my house. Animals I care about very much. Animals that are teaching me a lot.
The frightened tortoiseshell kitten that attempted to leap out of my grasp now trots behind my heels as she follows me everywhere. I named her Prim, I saved her from a life of basement hell and she knows it. She could not be more appreciative. She sits by my side while I read, she watches my fingers move across the keyboard as I type, and she races to my bed when she sees me brushing my teeth at night, a tell tale sign that I’m actually making moves towards sleep. She purrs so loud when I hold her, she encourages me to pet her, but every now and then she just sits in my lap and stares at me. I’ve experienced very few stares as powerful. With all of her might she is staring at me. I know the verdict is still out on animals ability to form and experience emotion, but I can without a doubt tell you the stare from the little tortoiseshell kitten is without a doubt the most powerful experience with love I have potentially ever had. Her unwavering commitment to me is borderline obsessive. I can tell the frightened little tortoiseshell kitten I picked up almost a month ago has long left as she kneads on my arm, curls up on my shoulder and falls fast asleep with a deep sign of contentment.
My self-love goal for today is to practice loving myself as much as my little tortoiseshell kitten loves me.
This self-love post was submitted for the 31-Day Self-Love Writing Challenge. Even though January is over, you can continue to write from the prompts if they inspire you. February’s self-love writing prompt is Be Your Own Valentine. Join our February Self-Love Writing Challenge Facebook event to continue sharing your self-love journey in a safe community.