It was a strange coincidence, but we surely thought we lost our cat Fabrizio on his birthday, Halloween. We had that raging party on Saturday and although he slept in the house that night I think the party had spooked him out of comfort, which was why he was nowhere to be found on Sunday.
And then he didn't come back on Monday either. Or Tuesday.
Amanda took the potential of losing Fabrizio hard. She was really sad, and I was sad, too. We talked about what could have happened. Maybe he was attacked by raccoons, maybe he had been snatched by a cat lady. (To that point, I checked in with our local neighborhood cat lady with the 12 cats on her back porch all the time.) We called the animal shelter and Sergio did his part to check there during the day when Amanda and I were at work.
Still, no Fabrizio.
It was on Tuesday when I really thought about WHY we cared so much, and then I thought about all the past pets I had growing up - dogs, cats, birds, etc. - and how I felt so differently now.
And it's really because Fabrizio and the house are the only two primary, physical things that define Amanda and I as a couple so far. Obviously we have our wedding rings and all that, but the house and the cat are our two shared investments that we did together. They're living, breathing things (really, the house is drafty) that we're responsible for, and that feeling of responsibility and accountability gives us something to work on and work toward. So, we run in circles, chasing our tails, keeping ourselves busy with everything related to how couple nest - fixing up the house, getting the cat, breaking the house, fixing the parts we broke, losing the cat, finding the cat, and drinking wine in between. Nobody said it was easy.
Granted, we haven't had much time to acquire much else, but when you're young and married, you're just grasping for progress and resolve -- and with limited resources. Some days, those wake-eat-commute-work-commute-eat-sleep days, it doesn't feel like progress. Everything about the institution of marriage is intangible and when life is hard and tired it's just easier to have the comfort of the tangible things you share as a couple, and the most meaningful of those are the big investments you made together.
Of course, this puts a lot of pressure on the cat. No wonder he ran off, right?
As it turns out, he got stuck in our neighbor's garage and Amanda recovered him. The balance was returned to The Force.
In coming days and years we're going to have real challenges -- worse luck than a possum invasion, and losses greater than the cat in the garage -- and we'll have to figure it all out together. Fabrizio has given us a couple good trial runs to test our limits while he's still the big show in town. Fortunately, Amanda and I make a good team, balance each other out and manage when we're tested.
(You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around...) That's what it's all about.