If you love something

I am on the road right now. I’ve spent 3 days thus far in Florida, and tomorrow morning we are heading for Indianapolis, Indiana. On Thurday evening we go home, only to leave for Colorado the following Tuesday. If my posts are sparse, I deeply apologize.

I have had great luck with my health while traveling this year. To put what I am about to say in perspective, I’ve been to the ER for the last 4, maybe 5 winters in a row with a severe respiratory infection after traveling. It’s usually viral, so all they can do is give me codeine to help me sleep. Last year I went twice to the ER after traveling.

As for this trip, I managed to be ok (but a little tired) on Sunday when I went to Busch Gardens with my old friends from high school and college (Lane and Jen – I’ve spoken of them often). It was the last day they were giving out free beer in the park, so we took them up on it. I’ve never been a beer person, though, so it was only ok. Since then, I’ve slept for about 18 out of every 24 hours that has passed. I’m achy and a little feverish. I also had a lot of lower back pain that my friends thought might be a kidney infection. I hope not – I still have a lot of traveling to do. But still, I would rather have this than the awful, desperate feeling of being unable to breathe. How’s that for looking on the bright side of things?

There is one more unfortunate side effect of being sick. When I am awake, I feel incredibly emotional and weepy about everything. I actually woke up the night after going to Busch Gardens sobbing about Carrot. I don’t want to give Carrot’s new mother the wrong impression – giving her up was the right decision. I believe in signs. I was trying not to show Carrot, but the woman who adopted her saw her anyway and said all the right things. She said things like, “I know how much work you must have done with her, and how much you must love her.” When her husband came to meet Carrot, he asked, “Are you sure you want to give her up?” I told him that was a loaded question. After the adoption, Carrot’s intro to the resident cat went really well (and her parents were kind enough to let me help with it). This picture shows what happened after the first maybe 30 minutes of her arrival in her new home:

carrot-and-taj

It may not look special, but it was significant that we were able to let Carrot interact with the resident cat (Taj) that quickly. He was a little nervous about her, but he was quickly interested and tried to check her out. Carrot was absolutely amenable to the whole process.

Within 24 hours, I wanted to call her new mother, but I didn’t want to seem… I don’t know… like I didn’t trust them? I checked my email, and wouldn’t you know it, her mother sent me a note telling me that the cats weren’t friends yet, but they slept within inches of each other. A few days into my trip, she sent me a picture of the two of them doing exactly that. This family is perfect for her – and me. This is what I wish for all of my foster kittens.

Despite all of this, my heart and my head are not always on the same page. I loved Carrot. I had her for 4 months, the first of them being touch and go at best. When she started to develop a personality, Carrot turned out to be amazing. She was warm and affectionate, respectful of the elder cats (especially cat reactive Buttercup), and just the perfect amount of rotten. Every time that cat walked into the room, I couldn’t help but smile no matter how I felt prior to her arrival. She was sunshine in a warm, furry package.

When you have to give something like that up, it is devastating. I missed my own cats while I was on the plane, but I knew they would be there when I got home. I began to miss Carrot, and was hit with the cold reality that she won’t be there anymore. Her mom will update me – I have no doubt about that. And I will treasure every word of it. Every photo. I will also treasure the idea that these wonderful people are willing to care for and love a kitten that I really shouldn’t be adopting. I have to keep reminding myself that Buttercup would not take a move and a new family member well. I love Buttercup, too, and I don’t want to stress her unduly. Still, there is a big hole where Carrot used to be. It’s going to take a while to get past that.

I find the metaphor of Carrot particularly poignant. You see, the Carrot story relates very closely with my move. When I came to San Francisco 5 years ago, it was an easy choice to make. I was living in a town that had nothing left for me, save for a few friends who I still see occasionally. The move to San Francisco was quick – just a month between the day Michael was asked if he would like to interview for a job at Schwab and the day we were moving into a San Francisco apartment. I had no idea what the new city would hold for me, but it had to be better than what we had.

I love San Francisco. It was right for us at the time we moved there. Michael had previously worked for the Board of Administration in Florida. While we were there, we were underpayed and could not comfortably make ends meet. When we got the job in SF, we could pay off our debt and begin a real savings! It was such a great feeling. I finally found my niche in SF – fostering kittens. I learned a lot about how shelter systems work, I learned about kitten health and development, and I made a LOT of friends. I learned about sides of political issues that I may never have otherwise had the opportunity to be exposed to. I feel that my experience here made me a better, more informed citizen of the US. I even changed my points of view when I came to understand issues more deeply. I feel I have become more accepting, more able to see the middle ground in a disagreement. I even learned more about myself.

I love the culture of San Francisco as well. I’ve seen many Broadway plays here, I love the shopping, I love the scenery, I love the old houses and the history. I love the parks and the restaurats. I love the diversity.

But.

I do not love the cost of living. It became clear that I would have to give up a few dreams to live here. Home ownership in a place where I feel safe and can have enough space to foster kittens is financially out of reach. I believe that since I’ve developed asthma, the city air is particularly detrimental to my health. I can’t sleep with the city noise and lack of darkness.

Colorado is not without its drawbacks either. The sameness of suburbia might prove to be soul crushing. I learned that the shelters out there have a different attitude about what it adoptable.  Can you believe that none of the shelters will take Taj and Willy, the cats who currently live in the house we are buying, because they are “too old”? They are in excellent health. They are friendly. They are adoptable. I’m not sure that I will be able to foster kittens in an environment where they take this attitude. I am scared to death that I will be lonely and unable to do the job that I love so much.

In order to make this move, I have to give up a city that I love. Just like I have to give up Carrot. I know in my heart that it’s the right thing in both cases. It’s just hard to give up something you love. Let’s hope the move turns out as well as Carrot’s adoption.

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