Saturday, July 13, 2002

As of today, I have lived in Los Angeles for eight years.

Yes, it is my eight year anniversary today. I know, because for these eight years I have kept journals. The first one in Los Angeles was on July 12, 1994. It was my first day here and I was staying in a weekly rate hotel.

I wasn't alone.

I had rescued a kitten in Las Vegas. He was so tiny that he fit in the palm of my hand. I don't know how old he was, probably just weeks, but I couldn't leave him in the 110 degree heat in Las Vegas where even though he was with his mother, he didn't have a chance. His mother was a feral cat, and ran when she saw me, leaving the little guy all by himself. So I picked him up.

I can only hope that mommy kitty knew I was giving her young one a chance. I had no idea what I was going to do with a kitten, as I didn't know but one soul in Los Angeles. I just knew that I couldn't leave him there.

I stayed with my friend Felix that night at his apartment, and we found a box for kitty after feeding him some milk that he rapaciously licked up from a saucer. He was chocolate colored and had blue eyes as all kittens his age do when they are that young. He'd meet my eyes and meow loudly, and I let the little guy crawl around on me then put him to bed in the box. He was too small to sleep with me, as I'd be afraid of rolling over on him. We put a tick-tock clock in there with him, some towels and a tad of milk. He meowed loudly for about three minutes, then went off to sleep. He was so tiny, but boy could he yowl.

My plans were to find a shelter for him that was a "no kill" shelter the next day. Since he was a kitten, there was a very good chance of him getting placed. However, the next day fell on a Sunday, and I just didn't have the time or knowledge of Las Vegas to one, make sure he was placed in good hands, and two, find my way to the place. So, the little guy was coming to Los Angeles with me. We drove through the desert together, him in his well shaded box until he discovered the joys of riding curled up in the nook of my neck and shoulder. He was that tiny, that he could comfortably fit in my clavicle. I drove, he purred against my neck, a little warm ball of fuzz, and I was so thankful that I'd found him. When I needed to make stops, I carried him in my shirt pocket. He curled up at the bottom, and no one ever noticed that I had a kitten in my pocket.

So I drove into Los Angeles with my new-found friend on my shoulder, both of our futures uncertain. I checked into the hotel, a strange little place that had a two story building and bungalows on the property. When I paid the manager my security deposit, I didn't mention that I had a kitten with me for fear that they weren't allowed.

And, that brought me to that journal entry on July 12, 1994. I was laying on my side in bed, propped up on one arm and my journal open on the mattress, and the little one was crawling around on me. He'd tickle my neck with his tiny claws then stick his nose in my ear, craving attention. He was my much needed companion and made the room that less empty. And, he made me laugh.

The next day I called my friend Tony, the one person that I knew in Los Angeles. Tony was a friend that I'd made at NewTek in Kansas, and I'd met his wife Martha, who was equally as nice as he was. Tony had become an animator for Steven Spielberg's then company, Amblin Imaging. By sheer luck, the hotel I was staying in was blocks from where Tony and Martha lived. I had no idea and had only chosen it because it sounded like a safe neighborhood. And, simply because I'd heard of Burbank through the Tonight Show. I asked Tony if he and Martha wanted a cat, knowing that they would say no. It was too good to be true, that two of the sweetest people that I knew in Los Angeles, who had good hearts and a stable married life would actually take the little guy in.

Tony and Martha came to visit, to welcome me to Los Angeles and kindly took me out to eat. Tony held the kitten in one hand, and the two of them sat in the room for a long time cradling the cat who rested comfortably in Tony's hand. I wanted them to meet him so that both of them could lobby for a home for him at their places of work.

Over the next two days, there were no takers, and I worried about kitty's future. I had no idea where I was going to be living after a week and wondered if I'd done the right thing. When I'd taken him from the streets, I'd put his future in my hands. Not only that, I was incredibly fond of him. Then, a day later, Tony and Martha made a surprise visit and said that they'd found someone to take the cat. I was ecstatic, and asked through the door as I pulled on my pants, "Who?"

They giggled, and I opened the door. The two of them stood close together and Tony said, "Us."
"Really?" I said and put my hands to my mouth.
"Yep, we talked about it and we want him," Tony said.
"Yay!" I said, so happy. This little kitten who before I'd found him was destined for certain doom was now going to go into a loving, doting and responsible home. They already had gone to the pet shop and bought the supplies needed for such a young kitten, the organized people that they were. It also meant that they had truly committed to this cat, and that I would forever know about his well being. They took him home that night, and though I was happy he was with them, I was terribly lonely for him. His empty box sat by my bed, and there was no little nose poking in my ear or mewing as he protested being in his box.

I cried that night over the loss, but knew it was for the best.

Tony and Martha named him Ender, after the character in Orson Scott Card's book, Ender's Game. Ender, who had started out as a little tiny cat, grew into a very large, beautiful chocolate-colored long haired cat. His blue eyes eventually turned yellow, and he is still today one very loved and cherished member of Tony and Martha's family. They now reside in Phoenix, and have two children of their own.

It turned out that I too, found a home in Los Angeles. The first three months I house sat in exchange for free rent for entertainment industry people who eventually introduced me to you guessed it, Cathy and Reese.

And Cathy and Reese are now providing me a much needed home as I plan to leave Los Angeles, just like I did to Ender when I'd first arrived.

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