I moved to Indiana only a few short months after Newcastle was born, and a few weeks after my spouse invited him into her home. We quickly became best friends—even though he’s a cat. But we have so much in common. Like me, he is big, clumsy, and bipolar.
He’s not the only cat. Since 2000 he has had two brothers—Andrew and Magik—who have graciously allowed me to live in their home.
And so the five of us have grown older together, and unlike the people in the house, the cats have maintained perfect health, despite the fact that two of them are senior citizens. I should be bracing myself for their inevitable retirement, but I’m starting to believe they’re going to live forever.
We had moved into the Washington DC metro area the year before, and I had yet to settle in. I’d been unemployed for the most part (this is by choice, since we could afford it), and we’d not really found any friendships that had stuck. And so, while my spouse was working overseas and left me alone for a few months during the autumn and winter of 2009, I had a breakdown.
It was the cats who kept me grounded, particularly Newcastle, who follows me around like he’s my sidekick. I don’t know what I’ve done to earn his affection, but I’ll always be grateful. In fact, during my first session with a new psychiatrist, he asked me what my goal was, and I said I wanted to be as good a person my cat thinks I am. When he tells me to find my “happy place,” it’s Newcastle massaging my neck and purring, like he does every night before I fall asleep.
We’ve been living in Qatar for the past two and a half years. I won’t go into details here about how things have gone, suffice it so say that there have challenging at times, and once again, it’s been Newcastle, et al, to the rescue. We’re headed back to the States mid-June, and for some pretty logical-but-convoluted reasons, we’ve sent the cats back early—as in this past Thursday. Our schedule’s been nuts over the past few days, so I’ve barely noticed their absence. But when life returns to normal starting Wednesday, and I’m all alone in the empty house …
I’ve never been apart from them—and they me—for more than a few weeks in a row before, so six weeks is going to be particularly brutal. They’re with friends who love them and whom they love, so I’m not particularly worried about them. But man I miss these guys.