Thursday, 06.25.2015 - 5:55 pm.
Well, the results are in: Andrew won the scholarship. I won the scholarship. We are moving to Sheffield in September to start our PhD studies. I'm grinning as I type this.
We haven't told our cats. It's gonna be a rough ride for them, and the day-long flight stuck in a carrier in a cold, noisy cargo compartment is just the beginning of our worries. We have started looking for housing and it's unlikely we'll find something from here. University accommodations don't include pets. We'll probably have to find a hotel in some vet clinic and leave them there while we find a place to settle.
It sounds rough indeed, for a cat, but no way in hell we're leaving them. They're our family, too. It still stings remembering mi cat Nena, who was passed along from home to home when my mom got cancer a few years ago. I never knew where she ended up and how her life turned out to be. My family and friends who took her in and then had to give her up meant no harm. It's just that no one had the conditions to look after her. And I was just so far away, every story I heard on her whereabouts felt like her furry little body slipping through my fingers.
My friend Virginia, with whom I was hoping she'd live happily ever after, had to give her up after her roommate and neighbors complained. She took Nena with her favorite aunt and she told me how they clicked instantly. But then family conflicts arose and Virginia lost contact with her aunt. Then she learned her aunt had cancer, but was not allowed to speak to her (I don't know how all that works, I just know she had to severe ties with her mother, who even burned her passport). I know it was very shitty of me but when I read the news about her aunt's cancer I only thought, you guessed, WHAT ABOUT MY CAT. I never asked Virginia, trying to at least not verbalize how shitty I was, and she never told me anything. Most likely because she doesn't know either.
My only comfort is that she was spayed so nobody would take advantage of her (she was Himalayan, a gorgeous cat)...and perhaps that she is now dead. I try to think a cat like that is not passed on to just anybody, and I say, hey, maybe the aunt still kept her. But whatever life she had, I insist myself, she now rests in peace. And I still feel so guilty.
That's why I'm not leaving my cats behind this time, or any pet ever again. And thankfully Andrew feels the same way. People look at me surprised when I tell them the cats are coming with us, few would truly understand.
In spite of all the headaches and paperwork ahead, we're so happy. Coincidentally, Andrew and I were in the same room when we got the news on Monday afternoon. I work in the Social Sciences Research Centre building and currently it's a shelter for many from the Psych Department. The university students are on strike again so Andrew and his colleague, who both teach the same subjects, were in the collective office in which I work, rearranging the schedule due to the strike. Each of us were minding our own business when he got a call from a close friend. I just heard him utter words of disbelief, I thought he was being told students had taken over the other building where he works or whatever. Later I learned the call was: "I got news". Pause. "The scholarships results are in". Pause. "Congratulations". And the friend hung up.
Andrew rushed to check the scholarship website and then he called me to his desk to show me. Our names were there. We exploded. We told friends, family, we called colleagues who also had won a scholarship to inform and congratulate. He and I didn't even hug and congratulate each other until hours later, when we got to the apartment in the evening. The rest of the afternoon, we just kept looking at each other, grinning.
I was in a weird state of mindfulness after the news. Like I was just living the moment. Stuck in the present. Everything was so bright and in my face. Nothing had happened before the news and all I had to look forward was getting together with friends for dinner (a previous engagement we had). I was just there, not quite believing it and wanting to get out of the errands we were running with Andrew, wanting to get home and digest the news and hug him and cry together and start planning.
And planning we are! I'm sorry to leave this nice apartment but now everything I lay eyes on has a tag: a price, a "keep" or "donate" tag. We will start un-owning some things and boxing others, to store them at our vet friends' house. This reminds me of when I came to Chile but it's different. I thought I was coming back to my home country so I just left everything as if I'd return later that same day. Then my mom's cancer hit and my decision to stay here hit and I feel I've lost most of my belongings (for starters, Nephew #2 stole all my posters but that's ok, he appreciates them). I wasn't able to bring them all and most are stored in my parents' or in my sister's house. I brought some and my book and record collections were split. It's mostly books and CDs and DVDs and other stuff with sentimental value, including a huge box with all letters I've received in my life (I have a smaller box here) and another one with all my Simeon comics, from 4th grade to my university years. I pray they're safe until I can get my hands on them again.
So it's time to break camp in South America, while we figure out everything about moving overseas. It's scary but by now I've had time to get used to the idea that this is something we're doing. And I'm excited. I'm happy. I'm grateful. And...guilty? Yes, that also, a little. I know the life I'm leading is incredibly privileged. My family and myself are far from what one'd call wealthy but if one knows a bit of what goes on in this world, even being middle class is a privilege. I'm so grateful and happy, and thus guilty and I fear I'll have to pay for this nice life in the next one (or it could be that I already had a horrible life and I'm being compensated with this one, what the hell does one know).