I have this recurring, terrible dream. That one day I’ll wake up and realize I haven’t lived the life I ought to have lived. I would sit, like I was prone to do every day in the same sun-soaked spot, drinking the same earl gray tea I had been drinking for the last 20 years. Reflecting the life spent on just myself, I would wonder if maybe I should introduce another being into my life.
No, I think. When would I have the time to take care of his needs? Consider his feelings? After all, the single life has served me well. I’ve yet to catch a gray hair in my black hair and have passed through each destination in life freely. At each friend’s milestone, those worthy of my time, I would be on standby to hold a hand, wipe a tear away or cheer from the sidelines. For each engagement, marriage, birth, new home and divorce, I stood quietly in the background.
I’ve lived a quiet life filled with intent. Quiet in the way a life empty of children of your own and a spouse can be.
Oh, I had travel. My weekends were void of university tailgating. I preferred my weekends spent at the party streets in New York, Miami, Austin, New Orleans, L.A. Las Vegas and Atlanta. Maybe for a detox, I spent a month untethered in the Valleys of the Rocky Mountains when I was 21. Shivering in Nevado del Ruiz, I saw my Colombian friends’ eyes light up when they heard word the Colombia’s FARC fighters turned in their weapons after 52 years of conflict. Almost one year later, I ate crickets, water bugs and silk worms from a street market in Thailand when I was 24. Since I was already on that side of the world and with nothing to come home to, I had just enough time to walk the Great Wall of China, tour Seoul’s Gyeongbokgung and visit the Taj Mahl before coming home for a friend’s baby shower.
Robin Grayson—her parents are comic book frantics— was barely home before I booked another trip. Greece always looked so peaceful. Away I went and away I kept going. Maybe to fill up life or maybe it was simply for the experience. Either way, I was getting closer to the point in life where invincibility is a laughable youthful ideal and old age is a certainty.
Twenty-eight countries later, I was having the same thoughts about the same dream in the same spot at the same time, each day. What if, really, it was time to get a cat?