Andrew spends the sail back into town considering the merits of various catnapping strategies. Strategy #1 the cat carrier offered by good friends and fellow cat sailors; #2 the harness we attempted to train her with before we left in the first place; #3 if none of these work he is going with the big orange bag again.
We plan a trip back to the apartment to visit our friends and conduct cat reconnaissance. We found Bess-Bess and her fat belly still snoozing atop the BMW, but no Katherine Hepburn. Andrew greeted Bess and she rolled onto her back to offer her belly for a good scrub. Andrew obliged, then Bess flopped to her side and went back to sleep. She seems like the kind who takes whatever she can get, and our leaving left her no worse for wear.
We climb the stairs and meet our newest friend, little baby Alva. She is the hippest little baby around, with hair that automatically styles itself into a mowhawk. My buddy Esben has grown like a little beanstalk since he left, and he no longer looks like a little baby anymore. He whizzes around the apartment on a little red scooter, occasionally knocking headlong into the front door creating a tremendous boom that rattles the eves. Now, I know why Kitty is maintaining her absence.
We enjoy our visit and take our leave before the low tide traps us on land until the wee hours of the night. “I wonder where Kitty has gone?” Andrew says, “What if she doesn’t come back?”
“Then it wasn’t meant to be.” I explain. I’m taking the approach on this matter that what will be will be. I feel all sorts of conflict about this potential additional crew. I love that fuzzy little beast, but are we signing her up for a life of misery on the high seas? My mind goes back to ye olde sailing days of the 1800s in which British ship captains landed to a port of call and strong armed men and boys to join the crew - whether they liked it or not - a refusal punishable by a prison sentence.
We move Sonrisa into the marina, figuring we can fill up with water, and it will be a little bit easier to transport the cat from shore to boat if we are tied up to shore. Do kitties enjoy dinghy rides? Doubtful. Days go by, and we do not make a move.
We hem and haw about all sorts of questions, the most important of which is how to spend our time between September and the first of November when we have tickets to visit home. Options on the table: (1) Fly to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos for our visa run; (2) Sail back to Thailand for our visa run and to shake down and test Sonrisa a bit more; (3) Fly to China and the great Chinese train trip; and/or (4) Sail Sonrisa backwards to the remote (and boat yard free) Anambas Islands of Indonesia.
“I just feel so guilty that we are here and we haven’t gone exploring Vietnam...” Andrew muses aloud. “And, I really want to go to China.”
“How are we going to go to China if we have a cat?”
“I know, I know!" Andrew grumbles.
“In order to make good decisions, I feel like I need a limiting principle. What is our limiting principle?" I ask Andrew over a rather delicious chicken rice lunch from a cart, eaten under the shade of a street tree.
“I don’t know.” He says.
The bottom line is there are all sorts of things we could be doing with our time, but we can’t do it ALL - which one should we choose? Flying and land travel cost far more money than our usual life aboard Sonrisa; remote sailing runs to the Anambas put us very far away from a boat yard if we discover one of Sonrisa’s repairs did not work as planned, and China is huge. We don’t have time to do the “Great Chinese Train Trip” anyway. What is our priority? Saving money? Giving Sonrisa a good (yet safe) test run? Where does a cat fit into all this? We leave this conversation on the table next to our wilted napkins.
Andrew returns three times over to his water maker repair project, tearing the whole thing apart in our kitchen, putting it back together again, diving head first into the cubby beneath the stern bunk, only to turn the pressure gauge and hear a disappointing hiss and pop of failure when his replacement seal did not hold.
So many oil seals available, but none able to do the work of a high pressure seal. We put one on special order and wait.
Our friends invite us over, again, for pizza. Andrew begins bustling around with the cat carrier, zip typing the corners together. “We don't want a prison break!” He nestles a blanket inside for her comfort, and spritzes the area with pheromone spray to soothe her nerves. He's humming “What’s new, pussy cat, whoooa, whoooaa, whooaaa....”
“If she isn't there this time, maybe we should consider it a sign." I say.
Andrew says nothing. He shoves the assembled cat carrier up and out the companion way hatch. He is going to get his cat. I follow behind and take one last look around at my cat hair free existence. Since meeting these cats, I’ve only just noticed a less than desirable trait in myself. Sometimes, when I love an experience that I fear cannot last, I start keeping lists of negativity in an effort to preserve some corner of my soul that can be glad when it is over. Knowing my time with Kitty would eventually come to an end, I bemoaned the shedding of cat hair, I noted all possible signs of allergy, and I maintained an attentive vigil for the emergence of more worms. (It's not safe to keep a cat around that has worms! She must go.) Only now, I realize I do this with sailing, too. It’s too wavy, I get seasick, I hate tying down the gas cans, we are spending all our money, I’m getting wrinkly in the sun...the list can grow quite long on my more fearful days. It is confusing. It’s not always easy for me to parse through whether I love or hate the object of my negativity. And, it is a terrible coping mechanism! It does nothing for me besides ruin the time I do have to enjoy what I love. I realize the cat hair problem is easily managed with vacuums and roller tape; it's a problem not worth diminishing the enjoyment of time with my fuzzy little friend, or apparently, crushing Andrew's soul.
“What will be, will be. What will be, will be.” I tell myself as I formulate my cat hair management plan.
We stop to pick up pizzas, then arrive at the apartment to enjoy the company. No sooner had we finished dinner, though, Andrew turns his face to the kitchen window. “She's HERE!”
Andrew abandons his pizza plate on the arm of the couch and scampers out the door to greet Kitty on the patio. Predictably, she purrs and purrs, circles his ankles, climbs into his lap, purrs and purrs, jumps down to circle his whole body now that he has sat down on the floor.
“What will be will be.”