I think my return to Chapel Hill would have been more heartfelt if I didn’t have a cat throwing a discordant yowlfest in the back of my car.
To be fair to Disco, he slept through most of the trip. Took him a few hours to catch on that this wasn’t a trip to the vet. And when he finally figured it out, oh boy did he let me know.
I’ve. Been stuck. In this box. For hours. No food. No potty. No catnip. So. LET ME OUT OR I’LL MAKE YOUR EARDRUMS BLEED!!!!
I felt guilty/worried enough at one point to stop at a rest area to see if he had to pee. But he just ran around in circles, briefly contemplating a jaunt across the parking lot that I discouraged with a full-on body tackle that robbed me of several layers of skin cells and left me with a mouthful of grass.
Yeah. I know what you’re thinking. Who’s dumb enough to try to walk a cat at a rest stop without a leash? Come spend a few hours in the car with this darling cat of mine, and you can ask me that question again.
After that, I tried ignoring him. Then I tried drowning him out by blasting the radio. Imagine a backup singer who sings a pitch that is in perfectly disastrous discord with every note that comes out of the lead singer’s mouth. Then cover them with gray fur, and you would have my cat.
The only person he might ever possibly sing in tune with would be Roseanne. Although, back-up vocals from Disco might have actually improved her ear-grating performance of the Star Spangled Banner.
Despite my cat attempting to be the next Freddie Mercury (and failing misERably), I had a moment of reflection as we drove into town. It was a fleeting feeling that I had never left Chapel Hill — that the two and a half years I spent in DC were a part of my imagination, not my memory.
The feeling lasted the length of the red light at the bottom of Smith Level Road. By the time the light turned green, it was gone.
I’m a different person now. A better person, I hope. I may not have a ton of patience when it comes to the singing aspirations of my cat, but I like to think that I’m wiser than I was when I left Chapel Hill.
That assessment could be wrong. But driving those last few feet to the new apartment with my cat crooning in the backseat, I really didn’t care all that much about my growth as a person.
Because after a long, chaotic journey, I’ve come home.