Do cats get homesick even before they move? Are they already, like me, feeling sad that we’re leaving this place and this neighbourhood? Are they noticing how this home of ours keeps getting emptier and emptier by the week. We don’t move until June but whole corners are now empty, drawers vacated, closets down to wire hangers — which are not travelling with us — and divider walls that are now folded in the corner instead of separating bedroom from office. Even Nicky’s “winter” chair with his favourite blanket in it is gone — the chair not the blanket it will return next winter. Are they just more adaptable than I am with change?
I think the answer to that is a resounding, “You Bet, Annie.” I remember when I first picked them up and brought them here 13 years ago, they came barrelling out of that carrier like they had been here all of the four months of their little lives. There didn’t seem to be even a hint of sadness for that alley in Chinatown where they lived with their mom or their last foster home where they were known as Elvis and Harley — those names may have had something to do with their lack of nostalgia for that particular place. Within the first minutes of their arrival, they found where the food was, where the litter box was located, rubbed against my leg and then took off to explore every corner of their new home. Within an hour there was not a shelf, piece of furniture, closet or paper bag that was left undiscovered. It was their mission to conquer and destroy anything in their path — they broke a lamp on their first day and removed every book from the shelves they could reach and then collapsed on my lap. They had made home.
I don’t know why I’m feeling particularly weepy about things today. Over the past weeks since I found the place, I have been down-right excited about re-settling in a totally different environment in a totally different part of the city. Maybe it was seeing the cardinal in the budding-chestnut tree across the street that tipped me towards lonesomeness rather than happiness. Or it was walking down the street today and having a neighbour call out, “Annie, how are you?” There’s that sense of belonging that took me so many years to claim and now I have to start all over again. Well, not really, I’ll still keep the friends I have here. Is that true?
I’ve been thinking about this woman, Marcy. I had worked on committees with her but never saw her in this neighbourhood. And, then, one day I ran into her up on Bloor Street. She was looking very sad. I asked what was wrong. She told me that she was miserable because she had to move away from her neighbourhood. She and her partner had bought a house in this neighbourhood and she just didn’t want to leave behind all the neighbours, shops, cafes, and her sense of belonging. She didn’t want to start over again. I never saw her again so I don’t know how she adapted.
But I know the cats have it right. “Just roll with it, Annie,” they seems to say to me when I’m feeling weepy. After all, we’re all very adaptable creatures — didn’t I and the other two cats survive, and thrive from that move from Washington to here? And, those were much tougher times than these are. I just have to remember to pack all the precious little bits that the cats and I need to make home — which, in it’s barest bones would be them for me and me for them — oh and a lot of cat food.