I never feel as though I'm truly leaving to live in another place until I begin to give things away. It's become a ritual over the years, one that's painful and challenging and absolutely essential. Although I admire people who are able to sell their possessions, I'm too attached to the objects that make my life pleasant to be able to watch strangers rifle through my treasures at a sidewalk sale.
Months before I buy my airline ticket, I have decided what books go to which friend, and who will get my favorite chair. It's a lot like making a will and then being your own estate executor, or (less morbidly) hosting a potlatch, and once I've decided who gets what, the whole process is a lot of fun.
This time I have a cat and he has made this undertaking a bit more difficult--giving him away is somewhat more complicated than presenting someone with a lamp that they've admired in the past. He's a cat with issues, having been removed from his home five years ago to wait in a pet store cage for someone to take him and become his willing slave, which I did and which I am. He's handsome and imperious and an attention-sponge, not unlike, come to think of it, every relationship I've ever been in with males of my own species. I adore him, of course.
He does not, however, travel well. The mere sight of his very expensive, deluxe cat carrier is enough to turn him into the Invisible Feline for hours, and the pitiful cries that he can produce during a brief bus ride are heartrendingly obnoxious. The thought of spending sixteen hours with him in a confined space with other passengers who are trying to sleep their way to Bangkok is enough to curdle my blood and makes me wonder if the people sitting next to me will kill me or the cat first. Then of course there are all of the viruses and parasites waiting for fresh feline blood once we arrive at our destination, which is the reason why I will be going alone.
My sister has offered to give the monster his next home, thereby proving that blood is indeed thicker than the most expensive bottled water and that I am blessed in being part of her family. It's the ideal solution and the cat and I are both lucky devils. The night that she made her magnanimous offer is the first one in which I had an untroubled sleep for a long time--until around 4 a.m. when I woke up with the realization that my sister lives in Alaska so the cat and I still have the opportunity to win hearts and minds on a mournful airlines flight--but not, thank God, for sixteen hours.