Nikki’s Big Adventure

Yesterday was busy.

We have, as you know, far too many cats around here, owing to some over-enthusiasm on the rescue front by Kevin, and then I moved in with my pair, and…well, my vet says that you don’t technically become crazy cat people until you hit double digits, and organized rescue buys you some grace even on that, but if we are not fully gone into crazy-cat-personhood, one can at least see it off on the horizon.

So when an old friend of ours was looking for a companion for his single grumpy feline, we pounced. One of ours was a sweet little round-eyed waif, whom Kevin had painstakingly semi-socialized, and who kept trying to make friendly overtures but was simply overwhelmed by the sheer chaos of cats, dogs, kids, etc. Nikki had the potential to be an awesome little cat, but she was probably always going to be shy, and she definitely needed a much quieter environment in which to blossom. Our buddy Jon had the perfect home for her–we couldn’t have designed a better situation for her particular needs–so we begged and badgered him into taking the cat, even though he thought we were a trifle nuts, since he lives in Minnesota, and I was going to have to fly up with the cat, hand her off, and turn around and fly back.

So yesterday, I did just that. I had to get up at 3:45 to do it, but by god, this cat was getting a home!

Nikki was a trooper–she rather liked the airport, and while there was some tragic mewing on the flight, it was mostly alleviated by tucking the soft-side carrier across my lap with my coat over it so that she could cuddle up against my chest in the dark. Jon happens to live in my old stomping ground in St. Paul, so I rhapsodized over landmarks–"Snelling! Water towers! Summit! Grand! Restaurant that used to be another restaurant! Restaurant that I ate at twice a week….how many times did you say they closed it for health violations? Yeesh." We dropped Nikki off, I wished her well, and he took me to a very nice lunch, during which I got a phone call from the airline.

"We wanted to inform you that your flight has been canceled. Is this a problem?"

"Well…I kinda live in Raleigh. It would be nice to go home eventually."

"Oh! Okay, I’ll see what I can find for you!" (She sounded startled. I am not sure why. Do people not live in Raleigh in her world?)

But my flight had been routed through Philadelphia, which apparently wandered into a snowdrift and won’t be found until spring thaw. Jon and I went to the art supply store next door, where I spent many a happy hour. I honestly wasn’t that worried–St. Paul is one of the three cities in the US where I can be stranded and have people that I can call up and go "Hi, I need to crash on your couch!" and they will come through for me. (The others are San Jose and Phoenix. Oh, and probably San Diego, if I can find Reese’s number.) And I didn’t need to be anywhere, and other than missing Kevin and needing to hit a store for some clean clothes, I could conceivably hang about St. Paul until I remembered that I could drive on ice and rented a car to get home.

As it turned out, this was not necessary. I have what Kevin calls "the luck of the Ursula" which is a kind of improbable luck in adversity. A bad thing happens, and then something great happens in response.* My buddy Otter describes it like this–if a tiger got loose from the zoo, it would eat her and Kevin, and then it would grant me wishes. I do not earn or deserve this and it doesn’t work every time, I certainly cannot rely upon it to save me–there was no silver lining to hitting those deer, or having my apartment burgled (unless you count discovering how seriously awesome my friends are) but every now and then it comes through.

So about twenty minutes later, the booking agent called back to say that if I could get to the airport right away, she’d got me a first class flight routed through Chicago on another airline.

I bid Jon farewell, jogged through the terminal, and sure enough, there I was in first class.

I have never actually flown first class before. I am a permanent denizen of coach. And y’know…

Okay, my parents divorced when I was about five, and for a number of years after, I flew back and forth to visit my Dad. I was the Unaccompanied Minor. And flying first class was almost exactly like that. You get on before everybody else and the seats seem really big and there’s a lot of buttons you don’t understand and are a little afraid to touch, and the flight attendants are really nice to you and keep asking you if they can get you anything. I am closing in on thirty-three and I felt like I was eight. Everybody else in first class were clearly grown-ups, working on business papers and whatnot, wearing nice suits, and I was in jeans and a t-shirt, staring out the window going "Wow! I’m on a plane! Neat!"

Getting to Chicago and seeing the giant brachiosaur skeleton in the terminal only enhanced this, as I stood and stared up at it for so long that the people in the little field museum store turned to watch me, possibly afraid I was going to try to shoplift it. (Dude. It’s seriously awesome. The tail goes clear over security!) Then back on the plane, back to first-class, ordering Sprite and listening to the rest of the cabin order Bloody Marys. I felt very small and scruffy.

The leg room was nice, though.

So today, recovery and some art. Tomorrow, the world!

*First and foremost example–six hours after my ex-husband informed me that yes, he did really really want a divorce, my agent called to tell me that there was a large sum of money in it for me if I went to Holly wood for a month and worked on a project there. It was at that point that my mother told me that if my life was a book, she would throw it across the room for being too contrived.

Leave a Reply