Thursday, April 30, 2009

Trouble Finally Arrives

Trouble moved in last night.

I’d spent the past several weeks since moving into my apartment wandering around, not speaking for hours at a time, and trying to figure out just how to live alone. It’s amazing at the number of people who were around when I was living in chaos, but now that I’ve simplified my life, they all seem to have other things to do. Maybe it’s just Spring. Maybe it’s the fear that married people seem to develop when one of their friends divorces. Whatever it is, the result is that too many of my evenings are spent alone. That’s why I got television after not having one for over two years. I’m still trying to find something decent to watch though.

But, I’d had enough of being alone with my thoughts at night. I’d had enough of not having someone to welcome me home, and I’d definitely had enough of the quiet. I was planning on waiting until after I returned from Shibaricon to move him in with me, but that’s still weeks away, and I just couldn’t take anymore of the emptiness. But Sir, seeing how unhappy I was becoming without my cat, convinced me that it was better that Trouble move in with me sooner rather than later. I’ll worry about finding someone to take care of him while I’m gone later.

I had been missing him enormously. I missed the way he’d curl up in my lap, letting me stroke his fabulously soft black fur. He enjoyed the attention, while I liked just losing myself in the simple act of stroking him. I missed the way we could just sit together, me enjoying his purrs, while he enjoyed the warmth of my hands. Soothing each other is something we developed in reaction to the chaos at the ex’s house. A house filled with people, other pets, and a three year old who liked to pull tails.

I missed the way he’d meet me at the door when I came home from work. He’d race me into the kitchen, looking innocently at the water dish he’d tipped over sometime during the day while rubbing against my leg waiting for his dinner.

I’d missed his adorable little chirps, mewls, and yips when playing with his catnip mouse. And I’d missed the way he always seemed to find the ends of my ribbon rolls and unwound them. I’d even missed the fur that always seemed to be all over my clothes.

Most of all I missed not being alone.

I’d anticipated a happy reunion. It’s been almost a month since I’ve spent more than just a few minutes with him.

I went to the store and bought him some new things. New toys, food, and a new litter box. I figured it was his first time living alone too, and he deserved some new stuff to make him feel better. I took some of his old stuff- his blanket, his bed, and hoped that he’d remember me enough that all the rest of the stuff wouldn’t matter so much. I used my own feelings about all of the things I’d had to leave behind as a benchmark for him. But mostly, I’d hoped he’d be glad to see me.

I picked him up when I got to the ex’s house. He fought me getting into his cage. I could understand that one because the only time he’d ever gotten into that cage, usually he’d had some probe stuck up his ass, or some vet tech sticking him with needles. His apprehension was understandable, and I figured I could overlook the scratch that he gave me- this time.

He cried all the way home. I know this is typical for moving cats. They don’t travel very well and get flummoxed at changes. Sounds like a lot of people I know. Being removed from all that you’ve ever known is traumatic for the best of us. But for a cat whose never known but one home filled with chaos and tension....well, I kind of thought he’d enjoy the quiet too. But I understood how he felt. The first trip to that apartment while moving my stuff, I kind of felt like crying too. But familiarity and habit aren’t substitutes for happiness.

When I got him into the house, I opened his cage and he literally bolted out of it. He ran about three steps (which means about two feet in cat measurements) and then stopped short and opened his eyes wider than I’d ever seen. And he ran straight back into the cage. I knew how he felt. I felt something quite the same the first night in that apartment. Feeling like I’d come out of my cage, fearing the unknown, and wanting to run straight back into it. But, if I could overcome that feeling, I figured he could as well.

So, I thought I’d just leave the door to the cage open and go out to the car for the rest of the stuff. When I got back, the cage was empty. Good sign I thought! I thought wrong.

I went looking for him. Now, it’s not a very big apartment and not very many places to hide. So, after looking under the couch and chair, I checked under my bed. At first, I didn’t see him. He IS a black cat after all, and sometimes hard to see when its dark. I turned on the light to check again, and still couldn’t find him. I had a second of unrealistic panic when I thought that somehow he’d gotten loose when I went out to the car, but I’m so careful with shutting the doors that I just knew that couldn’t have happened. I looked under the bed again and noticed the boxspring had a tear in the lining on the underside. And the tear was right next to a suspicious looking bulge.

I wedged myself under the bed and felt Trouble shaking inside the box spring. When I called his name, he chirped at me, but still wouldn’t come out. I spent a while just stroking him through the material, talking to him, and trying to make him feel better. Or at least make me feel better.

I decided to leave him to his perplexity and make myself dinner. I talked to him while I was doing it, letting him know I was there. But he still didn’t come out. I made his favorite food figuring that he’d want to share it with me, but still he didn’t come out. I ate alone. Again.

About an hour later, I went back to try to coax him out. I moved his food dish to the edge of the bed on the floor, hoping he’d be hungry by now. And was rewarded with the bulge moving toward the food. He hopped out from the box spring and nuzzled his head into my hand. He turned over on his back and let me rub his tummy. This was something that I understood. When he’s stressed, he likes to have his tummy rubbed. He started purring. He nibbled on a few bites of food and then went back inside the hole he’d made for himself. I understood. I sometimes feel like doing that myself.

I went out into the living room and started chatting with friends on the internet while watching yet another television show that I’m not altogether sure I’ll like. But I’ll give anything a shot right now to fill up all those empty hours.

About half way through some dancing show, I noticed movement. Around the corner, I saw a little black head peak out. Then a body, followed by a tail. Trouble finally came out of the hole. He started sniffing around, found his bed, the litter box, and his food bowls. He ignored his toys in favor of sitting by the screen door. He slinked and slithered around the edges of the apartment, and finally, came over and rubbed against my leg. I reached down and said hello and was rewarded with a chirp. I smiled and thought- well, things aren’t so bad after all- it didn’t take him very long.

And then I frowned when he ran straight back for the bed.

Rather than cater to his whims, I decided he’d have to figure out things out for himself. I did my dishes, got ready for work the next day, and crawled dejectedly into bed. I said goodnight to him, patted the bulge, and felt like crap for doing this to him- removing him from his comfortable home, simply in my selfish need. I was considering taking him back to the ex’s the next day.

Sometime during the night, he’d come out of his hole and started wandering around the house. The reason I know he did this, was because he started yowling and crying. He’s never had more than a little kitten voice his whole life and now, suddenly, he found his big-boy angry voice. I know how he feels. I’d had similar feelings lately.

He couldn’t settle down, he skittered all over the place, and finally he jumped on the bed with me. He pounced, he paced, and still he bitched. I cuddled with him, I talked to him, and I got out of bed to open the screen door. He followed me around like a puppy. But when I went back to bed, instead of crawling in beside me, so that we could comfort each other, he went back into the hole under the bed.

I woke up this morning with an empty bed, and with Trouble still in his hole. He did come out for a while when I was brushing my teeth and he jumped into the tub and rolled around in the water left over from my shower. He’s wandering around like he doesn’t know what to do with himself. I understand how he feels. I’ve felt like that for the past few weeks myself. Trying to figure out how to do this. But, I do have a wonderful boyfriend to help me through it and Trouble has me to help him.

And, I do think that we’ll both be happier once we find our way out of our respective hiding places

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