On a recent meetup with my friend/match of 18-plus years, Lauren, I was reminded that some of our best conversations/interactions happened in the car driving to and from wherever we were going. It is as though the chosen activity has become of way less importance than just the being together.
On this particular night, Lauren was coming over for a simple dinner of salad and potato latkes with sour cream and applesauce. We decided to have a belated Chanukah celebration since the holiday came and went during the pandemic without much recognition.
Even at our very first outing so very long ago, there was no shyness between us. Lauren learned straight away that she would have to overlook my Boston driver traits (she allows me the less-than-occasional F-bomb!) and I learned that Lauren has a propensity for puns—some real groaners—and that I would be expected to laugh.
This past summer, during the doldrums of the pandemic, Lauren made a big decision to adopt a kitten. Lauren understood that adopting a pet would bring a major change to her life. She would be embarking on a relationship that, with luck, could last for 15-20 years, and also that it would have a significant emotional and financial impact. I completely supported this decision since knowing Lauren as I do, I knew she had the responsibility, the emotional support from friends and family and financial means to bring a kitten into her home.
I helped Lauren by searching the local shelters and the internet high and low for a pet I thought would be a good fit for Lauren. On a warm, sunny day, we set out for Save-A-Dog shelter in Sudbury to meet a special little tabby named “Trooper.” I spent the drive trying to manage Lauren’s expectations, raising possible negatives: What if the kitten wasn’t cuddly? What if she hissed/scratched? What if Lauren didn’t “feel it”? I tried to explain that Trooper was not the only kitten in the state of Massachusetts who needed a home and that she had to be open to leaving without a kitten rather than adopting the wrong pet.
It turned out that all of my warnings were moot: Trooper the kitten jumped right into Lauren’s arms as if she, too, was looking for someone to cuddle with and call her own! The shelter was favorably impressed with Lauren’s application, the pictures of her apartment, her understanding of their mandatory spay/neuter policy and how to care for, feed and meet the medical needs of such a small, precious being.
This is the first time Lauren has ever had to be responsible for anyone other than herself and she is loving it. Becoming a cat mom is one of the most important and best decisions she has ever made. Trooper has provided her with love and comic relief during the pandemic, but the sense of being important and responsible for another being is the primary joy she has found.
Lauren has shown herself to be the best pet owner—everyone’s confidence in her has been proven well-founded. With my assistance, Lauren has taken care of Trooper’s first-year vaccinations and had her spayed and microchipped. My only concern is that Lauren could go broke buying toys and gadgets of entertainment for Trooper! She is a playful, mischievous, active little kitten, and Lauren takes delight in buying her things. (I, having been designated the Kitty Godmother, have not been too shabby in that department, either: I sent Trooper her first scratching post as a welcome-to-your-home gift, along with a case of canned kitty food!)
Lauren and I recently noted that we were actually recommitting to our relationship/friendship for the next 15-plus years, since adopting this kitten was something important that we did together and that it bound us to each other in a very special way. We have often noted that if the Friend 2 Friend program were disbanded tomorrow, we would still choose to be friends and talk and text and email and get together for dinners, walks, shopping, etc.
My friendship with Lauren has been so easy and pleasant all these years. All friendships have their ups and downs—there have been times we have had disagreements and minor conflicts, but none of them were ever serious enough to make us want to give up what has grown to be an important relationship for us both.
In the end, after 18-plus years, there is nothing to keep us together except love, friendship and the desire to be part of each other’s lives.
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