Monday, September 21, 2009

Love is black and white

I was eight years old the first time I fell in love and for me, love was black and white. It wasn't the tormented affair I saw on my mother's daytime soap operas and it certainly wasn't a tale of unrequited love. I loved him and he loved me, no questions about it. My first love was a furry four month old kitten named Buster.

Ok, maybe that's not quite the whole story. Truth be told, I didn't want him at first. I wanted the six week old orange tabby kitten that could barely walk and stuck me with its claws every time I held it.

It was the day after Christmas and my mom, brother and I were looking at the kitties at the SPCA, and don't even get me started on how sad that damn shelter made me -- I wanted to take them ALL home. I got the impression that Dave and mom were pretty set on getting a black and white cat (whose Christmas present is this, anyway?) just because it seemed to be tradition or something.

Despite that pretty blue-eyed orange kitten mewing at me from behind the glass I ended up with this sweet-yet-shy troublemaker that was terrified of strangers and plastic sacks. For the first two days the term "stranger" applied to our family as well and he spent most of his time hiding underneath something though I can't remember what. He eventually warmed up to us, and me, and he's still under foot today, fifteen years later, still begging for food at all hours of the night and leaving tiny bruises on my legs because he's so freakin' fat but his paws are so freakin' small.

Love came in other shades, too, but so far Buster is the only one that's managed to stick around. We were a one cat household for a long time, but then we got a dog...and then my grandmother gave me a horse (Daddy was none too pleased about that one)...and then I woke up one day and realized we had somehow amassed a gaggle of four cats.

How that happened, I really have no idea. I love animals but my dad...well, not so much, and I swear he almost had a fit anytime he would turn around and see one of the animals sitting on something other than the floor. Sometimes I feel bad for him about that; the bond between human and animal is unlike any other. Buster loves me no matter what, doesn't get mad when I'm snippy after a bad day at work, and only wants love (and kibble).

He's the perfect guy, really, which is why I go to him on my worst days. It sounds cliche` but I can always find comfort in his soft fur. He doesn't judge me even when I feel like I deserve to be judged, and for that kind of unconditional love there are no words. So I'll take the two a.m. "feed me!" wake up calls, the hair balls, the white cat hair on my black work pants, even the stinky litterbox, and be grateful to do so.

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