Five Years Ago

Five years ago today, I drove to East Montpelier, Vermont, to the Central Vermont Humane Society to adopt a kitten. They had about half of a dozen kittens, but only one was female. I happen to prefer female cats. In my opinion, they are easier and make better companions. I have never owned a male cat. 

Five years ago, I was in a bad place mentally. I was very lonely after moving to Vermont. The apartment I had rented initially did not allow pets, and I missed my two cats, Edith and Lucy, that are still in Alabama with my aunt. I had planned to find an apartment that allowed cats once I moved up here and bring my cats back with me when I went home the next time. However, my aunt said my two cats had gotten used to living with her (it’s the only place they’d lived beside the Montgomery Humane Society), so she wanted to keep them with her. I kept my apartment for the time being, but I informed my landlords that I would be moving out as soon as I found an apartment that would take cats because I really wanted a cat companion. My landlords said that they would allow me to have a cat if I paid a pet deposit. I knew they had problems renting the other apartments in my building, so I’m sure they did not want to lose a tenant.

So, five years ago, I began looking around at the local animal shelters for kittens. CVHS had a group of kittens in, so on the morning of Saturday, June 18, 2016, I went to CVHS to adopt a kitten. I had filled out all of the paperwork ahead of time, so they took me into the kitten room when I got there. The female kitten (Bridget—what a horrible name!) was solid black and hiding under a chair. I picked her up, and I knew right away, this was my new kitten. I knew that black cats are often left at shelters because people see them as bad luck, which made her especially endearing.

Five years ago, I took the tiny black furball home, and she immediately hid under the bed. It took her a little while to come out, but once she did, she let me know she was there, as you can see her mid-meow in the picture above. She has never had a strong meow unless her food bowl is mostly empty. She acclimated very well and became my little companion. She has never been one to cuddle up next to me as some cats have, though she will lay on my hip and occasionally in my lap. She absolutely hates to be picked up and lays limply in my arms with her head turned away from me if I do pick her up.

For five years, she has grown into a creature of habit. She is rarely more than a few feet away from me, though that has changed a little since I have been home so much during the pandemic. She will go and sleep in another room during the day, occasionally coming out to check on me. When the pandemic first started, I set up my home office in the spare bedroom, and as I worked, she spent her days sleeping on the futon behind me. When it got too hot to work in that room, and I had to put the air conditioner in the bedroom, I moved in there, and she began to sleep on the bed behind me. Recently, I have been working from the couch, but she seems to prefer the other rooms for her sleeping, so she mostly leaves me alone during the day.

For five years, she has been my constant companion. She loves me and cares for me in her own way. She likes to watch over me. When she thinks I am staying up too late, she comes to tell me to go to sleep. She will try to get between my iPad and me, or she will lay on my hip to make sure I stay still. Once I turn out the lights, she settles down either on the other side of the bed or at the foot of the bed and goes to sleep. Most days (if she hasn’t played too hard during the night), she thinks I should be awake at the same time she is around 6 am. Once I get up, she follows me around until I sit to eat breakfast, then she goes back to bed to sleep some more. 

Five years ago, I was in a dark place mentally, but she has helped drag me out of that darkness. She may be a little black creature, but she has brought so much light into my life. I don’t know what I would do without her.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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