It is 5:00 in the morning outside the Samuel Mather Building in Cleveland, Ohio. I am standing by a small black Ford Tempo, called Little Car. We are getting ready to head for Dallas, Texas. The adventure is going to begin. The Samuel Mather building houses my office and I am gathering a handful of items that I need to take with me to Dallas. My clothes, some important items, and personal effects are in the car but the car is small and does not carry as much as would be preferable. In part because, there on the front seat, in her carrier, is Tiramisu, my domestic short-hair cat. Also, best friend and love-of-my-life in many ways.
Cat’s are thought of as independent, aloof, uncaring, not loyal, and some think they view humans as staff. I am firmly of the opinion that this could not be further from the truth. They are not goofy affectionate like their companion animal of the canine persuasion. But in their own way they are fiercely loyal and they know their person very well. That was Tiramisu and I.
I remember when my partner and I went to pick a kitten from a litter that some friends had. I sat down to watch a ball game while my partner selected a kitten. As she sorted through the various options, Tiramisu came over to the couch, climbed on my lap, and turned to watch the game. Well, the only thing better than picking out a new family member is having the new family member pick you out, and so Tiramisu, as a tiny kitten came home.
That was four years before we embarked on our trip. My partner had been transferred to Dallas and I was going to be working remotely for a good bit of each month. Tiramisu was clearly unhappy about getting up early, getting into a carrier, and heading out into the cool morning, with literally no consultation on what her preference would be.
We began our drive to Dallas right out of downtown, hopping on I 71 out of Cleveland headed south. It takes five hours to clear Ohio and it was with a sense of saddness we crossed the old bridge that takes you from Cincinnati into Kentucky. That was about noon and the sun was up and the day was warming up.
Tiramisu had calmed down and since she was a very well-behaved cat to begin with, which is not to say she gave one damn about being good, she simply saw no value in being contrary. Her mantra appeared to be, “let’s get comfortable and see what this human of mine is going to do now.”
That being the case I felt comfortable turning the carrier so that the door faced towards me and I propped it open. She was able to crawl forward so she was half in the carrier and half on the seat and could look up at me, and we could speak. It also gave her access, should she need it to her litter, which was on the floor. Note, if you have not done the math, the entire front passenger seat was hers.
We rolled the windows down and the warm air flowed through the car as we cruised south through Kentucky, and then Tennessee. We saw a lot of activity associated with the agrarian industries prevalent in that part of the country. One notable example was a truck that we passed full of livestock. I remember, Tiramisu, looking up at me with a “what the hell” look of alarm, or perhaps morbid curiosity, who can tell which at that point?
Feeling nothing was to be gained by telling her the truth, especially one of which I was not comfortable nor certain, I reassured her they were on a field trip and there was no reason for her to have any concern, and on our way we went.
In Arkansas I found a rest area and very cautiously took her from the car and we had a meal. She was able to touch grass and relax away from the car. I hovered lest she bolt but she was well behaved. Then I put her back in the car, gave her some privacy (she was a lady), and I cleaned up from our impromptu picnic.
We headed on our way, Texas loomed out there and our new home beckoned.
Around midnight, we headed into Texas and began the trek west toward Dallas, with Texarkana in our rear-view mirror. By now the diet cokes and coffee were working less and less and, we were getting very tired. Up ahead we saw a rest area and, since it said rest right in the name, that seemed a good place to stop for a bit. We pulled in, parked the car, rolled the windows up, and tilted the driver’s seat back. And I dozed.
I have no clue how long I slept but all of a sudden I felt a set of eyes on me. I opened my eyes and there perched on my chest was an old friend who clearly wanted to know, “what-in-the-hell” was going on. We had a whole day invested in the adventure and now, based on smells and her dead reckoning, we were clearly a long way from home. I wrapped my arms around her and assured her that we were just going to see her mom and she would be living in a new wonderful home in a really great state. She looked doubtful. I fear my credibility was not high at this point.
After an hour or so, we headed off to finish our drive to Dallas. We rolled into town around 7:00 in the morning. Subtracting stops, we were around 20 hours on the road but now, we were at our new home.
Since that trip, she has made it back and forth three additional times and actually got really good at that trip. She was a trooper. But I remember feeling like if there was anyone with whom I wanted to travel, and there are very few, there are none who I enjoyed traveling with as much as I did my sweet Tiramisu.