Monday, 1 September 2014

Birthdays and Meetings - The Last Days of Summer

In case you had neither guessed it nor knew about the life that I lead behind this electronic screen, birthdays are regarded as super-important in my family. Whatever time of the year, all of us sit down together - apart from the cats, who are usually chasing one another in my bedroom (a.k.a. the Kitty Jungle) - to open cards and presents in front of one another, basking in joy over that special somebody receiving a gift on their birthday.

For years, that routine has never changed for any of us - therefore, I feel like I've stepped back in time for the first few hours on my birthday - and I don't expect it to in the near future, but what truly amazes me is that this tradition is also shared with my cats. Yes, the two little rascals, one of whom takes after Bart Simpson and the other a street-wise feline on the 60s cartoon Top Cat, are entitled to the same treatment that the humans receive - and long shall they be treated like kings!

Despite their constant antics, their affectionate ways have melted my heart into a slushy mess, making it virtually impossible to ever stay angry with them for long. Even when they've deliberately knocked over ornaments off my shelf. And keep stalking me whenever a carrot - of the things in the world, a non-fishy vegetable - is in sight. But, like my even more irritating younger brother, I love my cats because they always provide the company and affection that I seek whenever I want it.

So, is it any wonder that, as they turn a year old today, my family and I are celebrating their first birthday? Regardless of their unhumanly fur and painfully sharp claws, they are essential part of the family, who are equally as special as the rest of us. Although they might not share our bloodline (otherwise I probably would've grown a tail long before now), Bart and Benny are treated and respected just as well - or, at times, even better - as my brother and I.

Personally, I don't care about what other people think about a cat's position in a family because my opinion - and endless outpouring of love - is all that matters. Like their predecessors, Tom and Jerry, Bart and Benny have gotten so used to human life that they have been partly humanized. Bart has taken after Peter Pan in the sense that he will never grow up - and we shall never encourage him to! On the opposite end of the scale, Benny is reserved like myself, but springs to life whenever in contact with his brother, whom he loves dearly. My younger brother might deserve a little telling-off from time to time, yet you wouldn't need to be told twice that, in whatever situation, you can always count on me to defend him. In a way, Benny reminds me of my mum due to his tendency to protect and stand up for baby Bart - if it wasn't for being born a boy, Benny would been a perfect mother!

As they are so special to every single one of us, we feel that we owe it to them to celebrate their first birthday. Due to being born outdoors, none of us are certain as to which day Bart and Benny came into the world, but we settled on 1st September because a) it wouldn't clash with the beginning of the school year so the whole family could celebrate with the birthday boys and b) I generally like the first day on a new month, perhaps because of being born on one myself.

Earlier this morning, we opened two separate cards - a monkey-themed one for Bart and a chic blue theme for Benny - and read them out to the cats who, five seconds after we starting speaking out loud, were more interested in returning to their after-breakfast sleep. Seeing the figure '1' on the cards alerted me to a truth that could have been easily forgotten: around this time last year, my two precious friends had entered the world whilst living outdoors, with no access to food, water or shelter. The fortnight that followed before an animal rescue charity saved them will have been the most traumatic time in their short, yet already difficult lives. I really hope that they have long forgotten about their past and have moved on, but hope doesn't truly dispel my fears.

Unless they develop the ability to talk or even tweet, I will never find out what their first few weeks of life were like, and how it affected them. Besides, would I truly want to know? Letting my imagination run wild at the beginning startled me to say the least: if I discovered what actually happened to them, it would break my heart. Life should never be difficult for any animal, let alone a vulnerable kitten  I'm just glad that Bart and Benny are safe and sound in our home, protected from whatever placed them in danger this time last year.

Anyway, my beloved kittens - whose status has since graduated from 'kitten' to 'juvenile cat' - will have to make do with spending the afternoon alone while I go to meet up with an old friend whom I haven't seen for seven years. On the off-chance that your head spinning around like a crazed disco ball, I am indeed telling the truth - seven years of growing up, getting older and entering adolescence have passed since I last met up with this friend, who I acquainted at the age of five. I'm expecting plenty of 'how much you've grown' and 'you look exactly like your mother' when I catch up with my friend and her family, who will also be meeting my own (minus the cats, of course).

Ever since I moved house - to the same county in which I lived as a youngster - I've been dying to hang out with my friend, whose primary school I used to attend. What with starting a new school, visiting places and being busy in general, finding the time to meet her has proved difficult, but a date was finally set a couple of weeks ago. And now my impatience to see her - which has steadily grown over the course of seven years (and counting) - is close to bursting!

Without having to be told, people do change - and I'm expecting to be taken aback when I catch up with my friend, by not only appearances and fashion sense (it is fair to say that fuschia was removed from wardrobe many years ago), but also our beliefs and interests. Having a heavy-going discussion on the phone cannot be compared to a heart-to-heart together which, no matter what, will never be replaced by the likes of social media and texting. I've been restrained by phones, texting and letters for years, which have passed without my knowing it. So, I will be taking a huge step towards freedom by ridding myself of these restraints when that moment finally comes. I hope that it is as special as I've been dreaming of it to be since I was eight years old.

Today has been and will continue to be a day filled with special moments that will firmly remain in my memory for years to come. As my beloved furry friends get a year older - albeit not wiser! - I will be going back in time, returning to a friend who was very important to me when I was younger. Just don't mention the rain...

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