Moving Sober: Lessons From an Angry Cat

Love and tolerance is our code.

This Big Book passage became something of a mantra on the plane. Was it a screaming baby? Some dude with his bros who thought their conversation was important enough that everyone wanted to hear them talk?

No. It was my girlfriend’s cat.

I want to say I handled it well, but I did not.

Various bodily substances came from the cat the last time we tried moving it. It does not travel well. I swore that I would never move that thing ever again. Lo’ and behold, there we were with this monster, waiting to board the plane from Los Angeles to Nashville.

Love and tolerance is our code. Just for today. There are no big deals. Easy does it. Keep it simple.

All the recovery quotes I had heard over the past 11 years repeated in my head, with a slight tinge of mockery and sarcasm, as if being repeated on a grade-school playground.

After all, it’s all about me and what I want.

I bought 90 pairs of earplugs for the passengers on the plane. No one should have to listen to this damned thing for four hours, I thought. I was glad I had brought them, as the cat was screeching constantly at the gate. Man, I showed some incredible foresight. Maybe someone will recognize and appreciate how considerate I am.

That is, until the cat shut up just after take off. It remained silent for the rest of the journey, with only the occasional, meek meow.

Not a single person asked for a pair of the 90 earplugs I bought a few hours earlier.

Easy does it. Keep it simple.

My eyes fixed on the occasional-banshee stashed under the seat in front of my girlfriend. The cat trembled violently, looked at me with wide eyes, and seemed to shout, “What is the matter with you two! Get me out of here!”

It reminded me of jail. Loud, confusing, claustrophobic, and time seemed to come to a total standstill.

Love and tolerance is our code.

It is a funny (yet pathetic) thing to realize that a cat can show how co-dependent an alcoholic like myself can truly be.

I wished the vet had given the cat tranquilizers. I at least had the tools to get through that nightmare without turning back to drugs and alcohol, but this cat—what was it supposed to do?

Frankly, it was not my problem. I was not in control, just like I was not in control of what all the passengers on the plane would have thought if the thing had gone nuts the whole flight or not. Just like my family was not in control of what I did while I was working on my future pitch.

The only phrase that did not constantly repeat was the most important one: do the footwork; God is the only one working in the results department.

My job was to carry all of our stuff onto the plane, fly my alcoholic/addict/co-dependent butt out to Nashville, throw everything in a taxi, and throw everything into the apartment. Secondary objective: keep my mouth shut and not make the situation any worse.

You know—keep it simple.

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