Sacrifices of a Nomad
To lead a nomadic lifestyle one must make certain choices and sacrifices. In order to retain the absolute freedom to travel the world one first has to give up security & comfort, a home, clean clothes and regular meals. One has to accept that it may be a long time before seeing friends and family and that one will never have a steady respectable, career. For me though, I could deal with all of this. For me the hardest sacrifice I had to make when deciding to make the road my home was my beloved, blue eyed baby. My four-legged, feline friend. My little white cat; Teddy.
First-up, I didn’t name Teddy. He came from the RSPCA (animal shelter to my stateside readers) and already had a name. Had I named him then he would have been called Osiris or Raskolnikoff or Mozart or Jeremy Corbyn. I could have renamed him but he was already shaken up enough by being re-homed and I didn’t want to traumatise him further by making him answer to a new name. He was kind of a birthday gift to me from my late girlfriend and I say “kind of” because whilst it was her idea I still ended up paying the adoption fee.
I loved him instantly. He was young and foolish, boisterous and bouncy, jumping first and looking second and got himself into all manner of comical scrapes. What he lacked in common sense he made up for in charm and sheer sweetness. He quickly became the life of the household ingratiating himself with all house guests.So when I made the decision to give up my job, house and ironing board I knew that the hardest thing to leave behind would be Teddy. Despite how popular he was amongst my friends and neighbours rehoming him proved hard but eventually my friend and her family agreed to take him. The night before I caught my flight towards Colombia she came to collect him. He cried in confusion as we ushered him into the carry cage and I could feel his bright blue eyes piercing through the gated bars and looking to me for help. “Don’t listen” my friend urged me. After shutting the door behind them my eyes filled with tears.
After I had been travelling maybe a week or so my friend informed me that Teddy had disappeared from his new home. He seemed to have had settled so it came as a surprise to them but maybe he had just gotten lost and would turn up. I was distraught and could not help but blame myself. My friends back home put up posters but he could not be found and as the weeks turned to months with no sign of him I had to accept the worst.
During my time on the road I thought about him often. One night in a hostel bed I dreamed that he spoke to me and admonished me for abandoning him. In every city, town and pueblo I visited I would busy myself befriending the neighbourhood cats (perhaps unwise considering that I had cheaped out on a rabies shot before leaving England) but of course none could ever replace the bond I had with him. Out in the world, I never once missed my job, home, security or ironing board and I knew that my friends and family were ok and would be waiting for me. Yet I really felt the absence of my little Teddy.
Fast forward 6 months and I returned home. I felt shell shocked and deflated to be back and had an overwhelming sense of failure somehow. Then, within 2 or 3 days something almost miraculous happened. Teddy turned up and was handed in to a vets near my friends home.
I came to see him immediately. Wherever he had been he had certainly been well fed and I almost strained to pick him up to cuddle and kiss him. I’m not sure he recognised me or maybe he was just sulking at me for leaving him but nevertheless he bore the brunt of my unleashing 6 months of pent up affection. We will never know where he had been or why he had not turned up sooner, we just agreed that he had decided to follow in his Papa’s foot-steps and head out on an adventure all of his own.
After returning home I was not able to re-adopt Teddy as I knew that it would only be a matter of time before I headed off again and it would be cruel to keep on passing him back and forth between homes. He now lives happily in a place called Oxenhope which is a tiny, rural Hamlet in the North of England. It’s a great place for cats but not such a great place for restless nomads who want to see the world. It pleases me to know that he is settled there and I am sure that somehow, in his own way, Teddy will be equally happy that I am out seeing the world and trying to find the right place for me. I guess I can only finish this by quoting a wise old cliche; “If you love somebody, set them free” and he did.