Friday, January 3, 2014

My New Year's Resoluton: I Resolve to Trust My Self

Part I:
Confession of a Wannabe Cat Lady
I let my cat go outside, unsupervised.
It's true.

This wasn’t always the case. At first, when he was a mere 12 weeks old, I would only allow him on the balcony after I’d tested the length of the leash to ensure he could not jump or fall the three stories down. And I would also take him out – yes, on a leash – despite all the looks and comments from apartment neighbors. And he was ok with it – at first. And then, of course, Houdini blood began to run through his feline veins, and he found magical ways out of the harness. This lead to compromise: I would take him out and walk/ trot near him while he frolicked in the yards of the complex, unleashed. I would even talk him down when he’d climbed too high up a tree. Before long, I began to allow him more freedom, and the more I allowed, the more he demanded, and eventually, I had myself an indoor-outdoor cat (unsupervised in both arenas).
When I first allowed him to go out on his own, I remained in a state of panic the entire time. “This is what the mother of a teenager feels like,” I just knew it. It started with a half hour, then an hour, then he wanted more, more, more! I’d leave the balcony door open, so that I could listen for him, and so that I could quickly step outside and peek over  the railing to see him sniffing around in the grass. He was great about staying close-by. Of course, he got more and more brave and adventurous, and the circumference of his circle of territory expanded. Regardless, when I’d go out to get him, I would click my tongue, and he would come running back to me. This gave me confidence that he could handle the outdoors and I could stay sane knowing he would come when I called.
Part II:
The Day He Didn’t Come
One evening, it was time for him to come home, and I went out to call for him, but there were no signs of him, anywhere. He wasn’t flopping around in the median across the lot where they’d just planted fun plants to play in. He wasn’t snooping around the building in the bushes or sneaking-up on a dog out for his evening pee. He didn’t come when I called around the area of the golf course. There were no signs of him when I went on the opposite side, by the field. Nothing. Not a hint of him anywhere. And panic set in. Sheer, physical breakdown ensued, starting with a rapid heartbeat, shallow breath, and soon after, tears and shakiness. I knew I would never forgive myself if something happened to him. The guilt of being an unfit cat-mother. The shame I would face from people who don’t approve of letting cats outdoors. It all flew in and around my mind incessantly. Then it hit me: He’s in someone’s apartment. I was absolutely certain. No doubt in my mind. I rushed to get my husband and I told him of this conspiracy of which I was certain. Compassionate as he is, he went on his own cat-search. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. I was sobbing as I continued my own search, when finally, after a good hour or more of the frantic search, I spotted him in the breezeway on the main floor. A neighbor was stooping down, petting him. “Oh, is this your cat?” she asked as I made my way to him, scooping him up. Our brief conversation consisted of her telling me she had just gotten home and found him in the hallway. My first instinct? Yeah, right, skank. (Only thoughts; not spoken.) Later that night, I deemed myself crazy and paranoid, and could not believe that I’d doubted the neighbor gal. I had come to the conclusion that he'd probably just ventured too far.
Well, no matter what, that wasn’t an experience I was willing to endure again, so I ended up purchasing a $100 tracker that attaches to the collar and has a 400-yard signal, and this, my friends, would save me future heartache.
Part III: A New Year’s Resolution is Born
More and more over the past year, I have discovered evidence of my intuition serving me, yet I denied the grace of its presence, for whatever reason. I tended to explain things away; to think that I was blowing things out of proportion; that my imagination was getting the best of me. To no avail, evidence would surface that my initial thoughts were, in fact, quite accurate.
The other night, JoJo had been out for plenty of the evening when I grabbed the remote to his tracking collar and headed out the door. A fleeting thought appeared: He’s in someone’s apartment. There was that ridiculous notion, yet again. I turned in a circle with the remote in hand, per the instructions, and headed down the steps. Strangely enough, it beeped erratically before I even hit the second level, so I thought maybe he was chillin’ on the rooftop: “Oh, this should be easy. He’s right here somewhere.” But he wasn’t on the roof. So I proceeded downstairs. "He must be in the tree," which he had been in before.

But, no, he wasn’t in the tree.
I heard a door open on the main floor, so I turned to look over my shoulder, and out struts the broad-chested stud himself. My mouth gaped and grinned and I moved toward him. Neighbor chick: “Oh, is it yours?” (De ja vous?) His collar still beeped from my tracker so I clicked it off. I claimed him and she said that she was in the process of moving and found him. I didn’t trust her shifty mannerisms or her words when she proclaimed to have seen his name on the name tag “but nothing else.” Why on Earth would you say you saw nothing else, if anything else was to be seen?! For the record, directly beneath his name on his collar is my cell number in the same size and font. …Not to be accusatory or negative, or anything... I walked toward her with a smile as she continued to tell me that he ran into her apartment as she was trying to move her things out. I apologized for the inconvenience but she went on to tell me how much she loves cats, and I know a bewildered look overtook my face, as I know that JoJo does not typically volunteer himself into closed doors on a fair-weather evening. And her uneasiness and shifty eyes and ill-put alibi red-flagged my intuition. At which point, the memories resurfaced of the night I lost JoJo and how I was at first convinced that he was in someone’s apartment but then later laughed it off to paranoia. It was the same neighbor.
I good and well know that he was in her apartment that night several months back, and that it was not by his doing or by accident that he wound up in her apartment again.
That tracker was the best $100 I have spent in a good while. It not only helps me find my Kitty Mr. Love Ball, but it provided me with a  valid New Year’s Resolution: this year, I absolve to listen to and trust my intuition ... unfalteringly.
I will trust my instincts and not laugh them off or excuse them at any cost. They’ve more than proven their worth.
Best to all in 2014.

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