I don't remember making the decision to visit the animal shelter. I do remember the picture that I found online and where I was when I saw it. It was of a light-grey, female kitten with a caramel-colored splat around one eye. She was precious and the adoption fee was only $20.
One Sunday at 4 p.m., I stamped my timesheet to record the end of my shift at the zoo. I rode my bike home and asked one of my housemates if he would give me a ride to the animal shelter - a woman's home about 20 minutes away. I took a cardboard box with me.
The house smelled terrible. There was a small television on the kitchen counter and a crackling black and white program was barely coming through. She explained that she had to cancel her cable service because caring for several dozen cats had become very expensive for her. I remember thinking that I should turn around and go home.
She led me down the hall and opened a bedroom door. She peered around a bit looking for the kitten with the caramel splat. I was still wearing my zoo uniform. She looked behind a tall dresser and said, "Oh, there's her brother! Come and see."
That's when I first saw you. You were impossibly small and I could hardly make out your eyes. You looked like a ball of lint as you pressed yourself as hard as you could against the floor and the wall. I don't remember who pulled you out but I remember sitting down and feeling you pressed against my belly and my legs. Out of terror and exhaustion (or, I like to think comfort), you fell asleep while we talked. She took a picture of us and I was ready to take you home. I gave her $50 instead of $20. That was a lot of money for a college sophomore who was adopting a cat behind her parents' backs...but I'll always regret not taking her name so that I could have given her more. Because she gave me the world.