Adopting my foster cats - Ford and Rooney. | Two cats snuggling on the bed.

Living for a future that doesn’t yet exist.

I avoided dating before I left home to travel the world. I was afraid that I’d meet someone and that he would interrupt my plans. Because I had a plan. And I knew what I wanted for the future. And I didn’t want anything to get in the way.

It’s been seven years since I left. Three and a half since I returned. And I still avoid anything that could possibly be considered a “commitment.” Anything that might get in the way of any of my future plans.

Because I have plans. Or, at least, ideas.

I still think, often, of traveling again. I still think of moving to another state. I still think of moving to another country. I still think of going back to school. I still think of joining the Peace Corps. I still think of running away and disappearing and changing my identity and not looking back.

I still think of all the possibilities ahead of me.

And I still think about all of the things that could possibly get in the way.

I adopted my foster cats, Rooney and Ford.

Now, before you call me a “foster fail” I’m going to stop you right there. I didn’t fail. If anything, those cats failed me. I had these cats as fosters for over six months when I finally adopted them. I mean, what kind of loser cats can’t get themselves adopted in six months? Ford would bite everyone who came to meet him and Rooney would hide under the couch. If you ask me, they sabotaged themselves.

And, while I was prepared to have a cat for a few days at a time, a few weeks at a time, a couple of months even, I was not prepared to have the same cats for six months.

I mean, six months is longer than any relationship I’ve had since 2003.

At six months the two cats who I never thought would get along spent half their time snuggling together. At six months I got accustomed to knowing when Ford would sit on my lap and want to be pet and when he’d sit on my lap and bite me if I dared touch him. I got used to the way he’d crawl up on my chest and suckle my sweatshirt or suck the water out of my freshly-showered hair. I got used to waking up every morning with him nestled between my legs in a position I’m sure was comfortable for him. I got used to the way Rooney would meow ten times louder than his weight. I got used to the way he’d chase every toy all around the apartment. I got used to the way he made everything I own into a toy. I got used to the way he’d steal my spot any time I got up from the couch or the bed. I got used to the way he’d perch against my arm every morning. I got used to coming home every night to the entire roll of toilet paper unwound and shredded on the bathroom floor. I got used to them both sitting between the shower curtain and liner to watch me shower every morning. I got used to them cuddling on the end of the bed every night. I got used to them cuddling me. I got used to them.

And I couldn’t imagine having to give any of that up.

And I realized that I didn’t have to.

So, I now have cats.

Of course, I also now have daily panic attacks over the fact that I have cats. And what that means for the future.

I mean, I can’t really plan to travel long term again. I can’t be as spontaneous. Even the thought of moving makes my head hurt. And all of those books on how to disappear and create a new identity tell you you have to leave your animals behind.

Plus I’m even more broke than before because all of my money goes to whatever food their finicky tastebuds will eat this week and an endless supply of litter and all the toys.

Because these cats deserve all the toys.

I keep trying to convince myself that life will work itself out. I keep trying to convince myself that, maybe, I can have it all. I mean, Stephanie moved to Italy with her dog (and husband and baby). And Quinn moved to Thailand and frequently travels with hers. This dude travels around Australia in a camper with his cat. And this couple travels the US with two dogs and two cats in a camper.

I’m sure I could find a way to both travel and have cats.

Of course, I’ll probably just stay home. And be boring.

But at least I’ll have these snooglemuffins to console me.

Because as much as it scares me that the future I thought was ahead of me no longer is, I also couldn’t imagine my future without these babies.

Because, the thing is, the future doesn’t exist yet. It’s empty and blank and full of who knows what to come. So, sometimes, I guess, you just have to stop living for a future that doesn’t yet exist. And just start living. And trust that things will work out. Or, at least, trust that there will never be a perfect solution. So you should probably just do something. Anything.

I can’t choose every fig. I can’t simultaneously live on a beach in Mexico, backpack through Southeast Asia, have a house in Oregon, road trip the US, have a husband, have no husband, have all the cats and have no cats.

Sometimes I wish that I could wake up every morning in a different life. Experience a lifetime in a day. But the world, as we know it, doesn’t work that way.

The best you can be is happy in this moment.

Adopting my foster cats - Ford and Rooney. | Two cats snuggling on the bed.

p.s. If you want more Rooney and Ford you can follow them on their very own Instagram account.

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Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

  • Julia
    March 9, 2018at4:44 am

    You can definitely travel or move with your pets! I thought for a long time that it made things impossible. It is slightly harder, just because of paperwork and vaccinations, but they are really the only (minor) considerations. We moved our dog across the US to a different state and then moved her to two different countries (Netherlands and the UK) and it was so much smoother than I ever would have imagined. And pets are so much more adaptable than we give them credit for! Just think of them more as your companions in whatever journey you choose (or not) rather than barriers to a different life 🙂

  • Allicia allcorn
    March 11, 2018at11:32 am

    The cheapest and best litter hands down is wood stove pellets.everything else is a rip off! They are easy, smell nice, cover up bad smells…you just cover the bottom of litter pan 2inches (i have 2 cats and use a dishpan and a disposable foil turkey pan), then i dump them out twice a week. No scooping. No gross gravel. No gross perfume and poop smell.
    The 2 pans were far less expensive than litter boxes, and the dishpan is nice and deep (obviously no longer used for dishes). Also the turkey pan is decently sturdy and shallow for the one older cat who finds it easy to use.
    And forty pounds of wood pellets is SEVEN DOLLARS.
    I put the rest of the gravol litter in my car. I jst keep the lid off the jug, behind the seat. It really does keep your windshield from fogging up.

  • Jaclyn Hardesty
    December 6, 2018at5:17 am

    Wow! How cute the cats are! I also have a cat but I don’t go to travel with her. Your post inspires me to go to travel with my cat. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and thoughts with us and keep it up!

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