When your own cat doesn’t want to move with you to California, to live with a guy you’ve only been dating for 6 months, you start to think maybe you’ve made a big mistake. Roxanne wasn’t the type to make a stand, but stand she did on the day we were to hop in the RV and start driving. First I had to be stupid, but then she took over. Yes, the little, tiny 6 lb 2 year old grey kitty almost took the day.
The day being Monday, November 15, 2004, 4am, MOVING DAY. I still hadn't heard from the moving company, so they could be arriving at 8am or 3pm, what did I know? Why am I awake at 4am when I'm so prepared? You tell me why my brain is obsessed with the nails I still have to pull out of the walls, or the 5 minutes it will take me to tape the last two boxes shut, or the 10 minute shower, or the loading of my suitcases into the RV. At this point I have freaking 4 hours at the very least! Do you think I can make it? Yeah me too, but you try sleeping on the day you're moving your entire life and 3 cats across the whole United States to live, forever, just because you're in love with some guy (well not just some guy, but you catch my drift.) Well I digress, so sleep is for the weak, and I'm up getting the last parts of my life organized. Maybe I can take a nap once I know when the movers are coming and have everything done (hah!)
So I’m all ready, standing in my kitchen, boxes piled in the garage in preparation for the movers and damned if I’m not ahead of schedule. You know this is exactly when things have to go wrong. I’d been preparing for months, I’d even joined an organizational cult to get myself ready. Because packing up your whole life, leaving behind your job, church, parents, therapist, friends and the first home you’ve ever owned is hard enough without the complexities of putting it all into a box to move it 3,000 miles. Organizational cults abound on the internet but this one I’d found had been mentioned twice in the Washington Post and that meant something to me, so I took a chance.
Flylady is a cult for those women you see with houses packed to the brim with crap, old newspapers, flea market finds, cast off furniture from street corners, but it works for those of us with a mild disability in the ‘keeping your house from going to hell’ skill. It teaches you that 15 minutes a day will keep you from going crazy and, naturally, get you to understand that it’s just not so hard as you think to keep it together. 15 minutes a day translated into one box a day in the world of packing up a 3 bedroom house to move into a tiny 2 bedroom apartment across the country. I kept a couple of other boxes running: the giveaway box that went first to my friend D who could make use of almost anything, and then to goodwill, and the throwaway box that got set on the curb for every trash day. I had never been this organized but it was amazing how much stuff was just not worth paying someone to transport practically across the whole universe.
So needless to say, because of this fabulous cult of the homemaker, the weekend before my move I only had about 4 boxes left to pack! But, I also had picked the wrong moving company, among many bad choices of vendors in this process. I had a bad real estate agent, a bad landscaper, and many other characters I ran across in my journey, but we’ll get to those. So back to the mover, as I mentioned before, I had actually no idea when they might be coming, although I was pretty sure it’d be today. My friend D had taken the week off to drive to California with me in my RV but I had no idea when I’d be picking her up. A true friend sits around on her ass all day waiting for you to pick her up so she can sit in an RV for a week. 8:30 am came around Monday morning and, since I had been up for 4 hours, I was just sitting around in my house with nothing to do because I hadn't dared leave the house long enough to walk across the lawn and load up the RV with food or clothes because that would be the very minute the movers called. Everything seemed under control, so naturally it all went to hell.
Somehow, in that period of time, I found the need to go downstairs and do something. Now I had known for a long time that downstairs there was a secret hiding place where Roxanne loved to hang out, and so I’d kept that door to the basement closed for the last few weeks. Last thing I needed was for her to be out of reach when the time came to scruff and stuff her for the trip. Oh, but things just don’t work out the way you want them to because somehow I left that basement door open just a crack. My extra large cat Milo also loved it in the basement because there was cool tile flooring down there for his fat butt to lay on and chill. Thanks to his remarkable ability to cause problems, he was able to open the door all the way, and, unbeknownst to me, allow Roxanne and Piglet to go downstairs too. I caught the situation about 30 seconds too late. Roxanne saw me at the top of the stairs glowering down at her and immediately bolted to her hiding place. Being on the phone with the future Triplet King (TK) at this time, I naturally went hysterical. Like a fly entering a deadly Venus Flytrap thinking it was just another flower, he innocently said "How did she get down there, didn't you have the door closed?” Then a blaze of dragon furied fire such as he had never experienced erupted from my lips: “Of course I had the door closed, what do you think, I'm stupid? I made a mistake! Bwaaah (hysterical shriek to those unfamiliar.)" How in the hell was I going to get that little cat out of there when she knew perfectly well that coming out was the last thing she wanted to do (typical cat prescience as on vet appointment days.) Like hell she was going on some RV across country, what did I think she was, crazy?
Let me describe her hiding place to you in better detail to help you understand my hysteria: try to picture the basements in most houses. If they were built in the 70s or 80s they all involved drop ceilings. Panels and panels of probably asbestos laden tiles hanging in a metal framework, leaving a gap between the panel and the floor of the rooms above. Pipes wind through there and spiders I imagine, but it’s just big enough for a cat to crawl through, lie down and hang out. Well, there was a way in there through the laundry room, which did not have the drop ceiling. Whomever created this ceiling hadn’t carried it through to the utility room and so at the top of the walls in that room was a hole that two of my skittish cats had made use of for months. All they had to do was run down the stairs, hang a right, jump on the washer, then the water heater and 2 more feet to the tunnel in the ceiling. This is not a place you or I could go of course, as it was 10 feet up, 1.5 feet wide and 1 foot tall and would require us to jump on top of a water heater, bend at an unnatural angle and wiggle in. Even if you were strangely wormlike and able to get in there, the ceiling extended across approximately 700 square feet of basement rec room with the aforementioned pipes, floor struts and spiders. You’re going to catch up to the cat? I don’t think so.
So, this is where the highly evasive and intelligent Roxanne went when she saw me at the top of the stairs with my mouth hanging open pre-hysteria on the day I was to pack her and her buddies in an RV and move across country. Roxanne now had the upper hand while I impotently stood below on the cold tile floor having a total nervous breakdown about what the hell I was going to do now.
To be continued...