“I am still not sure this is a good idea,” I tell Andrew. It’s 1:00 a.m., and I am on Kitty-Watch. It is 0100 hours of her third day aboard Sonrisa, and she has spontaneously leaped from the bow bed, through the bow hatch, and on to the foredeck in one swift leap. Until now, she was too nervous to venture outside of Sonrisa’s cabin. I don’t know what changed. Maybe it’s the calm anchorage doused in full moonlight. Maybe, it’s the absence of the usual cawing of the Lankgawi Eagles that circle overhead. Maybe, she just slept all day on the couch, and is now energized for a mid-night romp. Whatever it is, I am concerned she may leap herself overboard and into the current that runs like a river past Sonrisa’s hull, and so, I’m keeping a Kitty watch.
We weren’t planning to bring a cat on board. The first reason being not only am I allergic to cats, I also seem to be allergic to responsibility for other being’s lives. In my entire 37 years of life on this planet, I have never, not once, owned a pet. My mother wasn’t into pet ownership when I was a child. In college, it was clear taking on the responsibility would not be wise. Then, by the time I married Andrew, settled down, and bought our house we were working or adventuring all day, night, and weekends. A pet would get lost in that shuffle. Besides that, we knew we wanted to go sailing, and we didn’t want an aging pet to give us an excuse not to go. In short, my life has never accommodated a pet. I was satisfied with the vegetable garden in which I named all my plants. But, since we moved to land seems Katherine “Kitty" Hepburn has been trying to get her paw through the door.
I tried to warn her. “Listen, Kitty, I love you but this is nothing more than a Summer Fling. We will be sailing West in September, and we will have to part ways. Don’t get too attached.” Andrew, on the other hand, did nothing to dissuade her. In fact, he only encouraged attachment with his overly-free scratches behind the ears.
“Andrew!” I would nag, “You are setting her up for a broken heart.”
“’Tis better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all!” He doth quote, but I don’t know if cats are familiar with Alfred Lord Tennyson.
In the beginning, it seemed this relationship would last forever. The list of boat projects so long, the back injury so sketchy, and the air conditioning in the apartment complex so appealing - departure always seemed a distance potential as unlikely in it’s eventuality as a blood moon eclipse. Nonetheless, like the eclipse, our departure is real.
As the week of Sonrisa’s splash date neared, I began packing piles of crap in the doorway, readying it to go back aboard Sonrisa. When Kitty would arrive to enjoy a snack and some love, she would eye the piles with suspicion. “Something is amiss,” her expression said. She scowled at me, certain I am the person to blame.
Bess-Bess carried on, business as usual. She would sleep on her BMW until late afternoon, collect her fresh fish from her owners, and carry it by the tail up to our patio to enjoy it in the ambiance of sunset while she waited for Andrew’s return. It was only as I mopped the last of the Oddgodfrey dust and grime from the floors of the apartment and closed the door behind me that Bess suddenly realized something was wrong. She wailed and “mowed" circling my ankles, looking up at the door insisting: “LET ME IN!”
“We don’t live here anymore, Little Bess." I pled with her to understand, but she did not. Kitty, on the other hand, did. As the story goes, Katherine Hepburn spent her kittenhood in the apartment we first rented before we moved upstairs to our friend’s place. One day, her people moved away and left her at the apartment complex to live next to Bess on the ledges. She knows the signs and symptoms of an impending move when she sees it. She looked on from her rooftop as I closed the door for the last time. I reach out to try to pet her and say goodbye, but she turns her face away, trots in a circle further away from me, then glares in my direction.
I sigh. “Okay, then. Thank you for all the good company.” I reach down, pet Bess, and tell her the people she used to know at this house will be back soon. Her yellow eyes say she doesn’t understand why this must be.
I am sad.
I don't want to be sad.
This is a happy thing, to be finished with the boat yard and near to splashing our Sonrisa back to her home at sea. Nothing to be sad about! ...except leaving the damn cats.
This makes me mad.
This would not be happening if he did not encourage them into my life. Ridiculous. Leave the damn cat be!
We splash the boat, head out to anchor, and enjoy our first sunsets, first night at sea with a soft breeze blowing through the hatch. I lay in bed and look up at the stars again. It’s so nice. We put Sonrisa back together again. We get everything in place, halyards and sails hoisted, systems tested. We enjoy a Sonrisa baked pizza for dinner..
“Kitty would probably love being on Sonrisa.” Andrew tells me. Look at all the nice cubbies she could nap in.
He begins leaving hints at his greater intentions.
I do miss her, though.
“I like cats!" Sonrisa tells me. Sonrisa has owned one cat before. Her last owners sailed with a white Himalayan cat who obviously spent a quantity time in the electrical wire cubby. We cleaned out enough long, white cat hair to weave into a whole new cat when we first purchased Sonrisa. “Cats are great company on boats. They are surefooted, and they keep away the vermin." Sonrisa insists.
"Sonrisa, this cat is not a kitten, what if she gets seasick! What if she doesn’t like sailing."
“Pishposh!” Sonrisa replies, “Who doesn't like sailing? Go get her.”
When Andrew discovers the watermaker isn’t working, we have no choice but to head back into town to acquire groceries, water, and a high pressure seal Andrew doesn’t already have in his watermaker repair kit.We make a plan to go visit our friends who have settled in and recovered from their jet lag.
“Maybe Kitty will be around.” Andrew says.
To be continued….