Friday, November 12, 2010

Baby Brother

No one asked Charlie the cat if she wanted a “sibling.” No one even warned her. We had left her home alone, with cat sitters popping in and out, for two weeks. Her sweet face and giant eyes were clearly visible in the window as we pulled into the drive—we could hear her wailing through the glass. Amanda and I stumbled through the front door with our heavy load of suitcases, carry-ons, bags of dog food, dog toys, a dog bed, and large metal crate that we had hurriedly purchased on the way back from the airport. Charlie was practically screaming. We scooped her up to shower her with affection and apologies, but she quickly jumped down to smell the new ‘things’ in the house, crying the whole time.

The goal was to set everything up and then I would go get the puppy. We rushed around as much as our tired bodies would allow. The sun was setting quickly—the night of severe jet lag and anxiety was already upon us. Charlie was a never-ending siren in the background. Her meows were filled with complaining and relief. There was desperate rubbing and petting as she zig-zagged between our legs. She had a lot to tell us, she stayed too near. (‘Underfoot’ doesn’t come close to describing her actions that night. What’s a word more severe than ‘underfoot’?)

We scurried around, puppy proofing in record time, then I was out the door again. If a cat’s jaw can drop open with shock, hers did. We’d just arrived and I was abandoning her again. Oh, if she only knew then the true depth of my betrayal. I didn’t turn around to get one last look at my life the way it was. I was sure I had already messed it up beyond recognition anyway.

“If only I had a little more time,,” I told Amanda. “I should have read more books about how to bring a puppy home the right way.”

“Too late,” she quipped and closed the door with a ceremonial “thud.”

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