I am in Manhattan. My hotel is four buildings down 34th street from the 33-story picture of Jack and me that looks over Madison Square Garden and Penn Station. My 34th floor room about eye level with my eyes in the picture looks down toward Battery Park and The Statue of Liberty. Kenny, Jack, and I went for a 10 PM walk. We had soft serve from a vendor waiting for a Pink Floyd concert to let out. When I told him who I was and pointed to the building he asked for a picture and told me “God Bless”. He made Jack smile. I knew when I opened my eyes this morning that I would close them here. What I did not know was the chain of events that my waking and sleeping hours would sandwich.
The sky was heartbreakingly blue as the sun rose on Tuesday morning. I sat on the porch letting its warmth soak into my skin. Kenny and Jack remained asleep as I contemplated the day’s events. We would be going to the MacGregors to retrieve a FedEx Delivery, pack three cats into two carriers and deliver them to JFK International Airport in NYC. I agreed to this task because it would get us to New York and provide another chance to see the billboards of Jack and me. We would leave by 9:00 AM, deliver the cats by 2:00 and spend the afternoon walking around Manhattan. An overnight stay to “see us” under the lights, a leisurely morning and we would return home.
Yes, there could be snags, yes there could be glitches, but the paperwork was complete, the details worked out. Scarlett, Yodi and Millie would make the journey to Oxford and join Skye, Somerset and Willoughby. (Well, Virginia actually, she loves those cats the most I think). We had minimal alternative plans, what could possibly go wrong? I have since learned not to ask that question unless fully willing to accept all possible answers.
We arrived at the house to the smiling face of Margaret, a close friend of Virginia’s. We contemplated feline logistics. We chatted about a variety of things. By the time we realized that FedEx had not come it was already 9:30. With a 4:00 deadline for drop off at JFK I thought 10:00 AM was the latest we could leave. We decided to let the cats out of their bedroom hideaway as our voices were clearly making them anxious to come out. Valentine and Scarlett came darting out. Millie and Yodi took a while to locate. One under the blankets on the bed and the other wedged behind a bookcase.
Jack would revel in cat play as the minutes ticked by. Frantic phone calls to FedEx by me, JFK by Hugh and us to each other tried to locate a package that had three “current locations” as well as buy extra time for drop off. As 11:30 approached noon we had all but decided to leave the cats at home and just have a NYC overnight. There seemed to be no way to make it in time and no “necessary travel documents” arriving. I hung up with Hugh, turned around to deliver the news when FedEx appeared in the driveway. We flew out of the neighborhood at high noon. We had five hours.
I felt bad for the FedEx customer service rep. “Don’t kill the messenger” came to mind as I recalled my frustration and anger at the voice on the phone. I always try to temper my anger with apologies in these situations. They are, after all, just doing their job. I also felt bad for the cats. After all the worry over getting them into those crates, my hurried words of “there-there” and “good kitty” were woefully inadequate. They calmed down quickly and slept the whole drive.
The drive. The only part of the day that was utterly flawless. We made it to JFK in just over four hours. (Can I get a retroactive speeding ticket for committing this to print?) We found building 66. Like the cats, Jack slept for the majority of the day. I walked optimistically into the cargo office. It was 4:30 PM.
“You’re the one with four cats?” I have only three I explained. “Well, it says four here, you have to have the correct paperwork”. I was a bit befuddled. I had the correct paperwork for the three traveling cats, as well as the invisible fourth cat. Just no cat. As the woman behind the glass further perused my paperwork she furrowed her brow. “They cannot travel together” she remarked, gesturing to Yodi and Scarlett. My anxiety began to rise. “They are not my cats”, I explained. “I am just dropping them off.” In desperation, I called Hugh. It was now 4:45 in NYC which is 9:45 in England. I watched the conversation between the cargo worker and Hugh escalate. I saw her put two phones together so Hugh could talk to her supervisor. She tried very hard to remain calm. Don’t kill the messenger Hugh, I thought to myself. I tried to intervene and she became a bit angry with me. In a moment of realization, it dawned on me that I too was the messenger. I had visions of driving all the way back to NH with three cats.
As I write this the cats are indeed in England. I had to drive to a pet supply store and purchase another crate. I had to spread Jack’s blanket on the bottom so there would be some measure of comfort for the kitty. I chose Scarlett as the new resident. I repeated all of my loving kindnesses and words of comfort. I took pictures. I said goodbye. I texted Hugh. As I got into the car, a wide-awake Jack and a weary Kenny greeted me. The sun was setting.
They are off! I exclaimed. It was 6:45 PM. Two hours and 15 minutes. Signatures, conversations, pictures, apologies, words of comfort. Three hours of waiting in the house. Four hours of driving. Two plus hours at the airport. All the while three little kitties sat wide eyed and utterly dependent on the people around them. Jack, sat in the back of the car utterly dependent on us. As the day drew to a close, I admitted to Hugh that I had fallen a bit in love with those kitties.
Did I mention I am allergic to cats! (I think I need a drink!)
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