As soon as we gain some confidence as parents and settle into a routine, the universe comes along to punch us in our smug faces. Our building had to be fumigated for termites, and we had to evacuate for the weekend.
When we initially caught wind of the fumigation news from our meddling neighbor, I was troubled, but not as much as I would've thought. In fact, I was uncharacteristically optimistic. "I'm thinking of it as an adventure," I heard myself telling my Dad over the phone. "We'll get a hotel, find some fun stuff to do around town. It'll be good for us." Who is this woman? How admirable it is that she looks on the bright side!
Several weeks later, we received the official notice and informational packet on how to prepare. Put food in specially provided bags, stay away for 2 days, turn off gas, etc. As part of the planning process, it was encouraged that each resident schedule a one on one meeting with a rep from the exterminators. I set mine up, coincidentally, on the last day of my maternity leave. So I was properly distracted and oversensitive.
The rep showed up a half hour late and when I answered the door, the first thing he did was point to Oscar and ask, "You spending an extra night away because of him?"
Actually, hold on a minute. Let me back up. That was actually the second thing he did. The first thing he did was take a giant step back as I opened the door, reacting to Seamus who'd come to offer his usual friendly greeting. As he waited impatiently, I attempted to shove Seamus out of the way with one arm, while holding a squirmy baby with the other. I flashed the rep a look and an eye roll, meaning, "Oh you know how it is. Always crazy with a baby!" My charm was met with an annoyed expression as he stated, "I'm not a big fan of dogs." Well, I'm not a big fan of inviting strange men into my home, but here we are.
Anyway, once Seamus was retained behind an exercise ball wedged between the couch and coffee table, the rep came inside, pointed to Oscar and asked if we were taking an extra night away.
"That's what I wanted to ask you about... should we take any extra precautions because of the baby?"
"I would..." He considered his word choice carefully. "Yeah."
"Once we're done we come in and test the levels in the air. We don't let anyone in without a zero reading...but you never know. You may want to take an extra day, two if you can."
Clearly I'd need to move out forever.
Now weary of the whole process, I forged ahead making arrangements for us and all of our animals. Seamus The Dog would go to Becca's, Midge The Cat would go to Katie's... but what about Sarge? He's a bit of a loose cannon and I couldn't see him doing very well no matter where we sent him.
I did a little research and found a cat hotel for him to spend the weekend. It was a bit of a splurge, but I thought he'd enjoy mingling with the other cats in the Tahitian Room. Also, it had a webcam so if we were bored sitting around our hotel room, we could tune in and see what he was up to. The only caveat was that he'd need to be updated on his shots and tests for some disease I interpreted as feline AIDS. I made him a vet appointment, Devin lugged him there and back, and by Thursday night he was good to go.
In fact, everything was going swimmingly on that Thursday before the weekend. I had a hotel booked, I'd made all of our arrangements, packed up some of our things and made a list of what we'd need to bring for the baby. I also drove a carload of Oscar's belongings over to Becca's. Though this supposedly wasn't necessary, I couldn't shake the image of his room being filled with green poisonous smog engulfing everything. I know, I should've been reassured by the rep's promise that his team would "crack a window after." Call me paranoid.
Now, here's the part of the story where an ordinary run o' the mill inconvenience turns into a hunka burning catastrophe.
The plan was to drop Sarge at the cat hotel Friday morning before I went into work. Thursday night, I closed off the cat door so he couldn't get outside. He yowled and hollered and was threatening to wake Oscar, so I relented and opened the door back up for him, reminding myself that he is always ALWAYS around in the morning so it would be fine.
I'm sure you see where this is headed.
The next morning, he was nowhere to be found. I waited until the last second I could before I'd be late for work, then headed out with a plan to return on my lunch break to collect him. He'd have to come back by then.
But he didn't. And when I drove home at 3:30, with the 5:30 cat hotel check-in deadline fast approaching, he was hanging out on the brick wall by our garage, inaccessible and refusing to come down. At this point, I was panicking. Not so much because I was worried he'd never return -- he always did -- but because my carefully orchestrated evacuation plans were unraveling.
That night, I brought Midge to Katie's and was on my way to check-in to our hotel when Devin sent word Sarge had finally shown up again. He locked the cat door to keep him trapped, and we spent the night at home with him yowling and hollering to get out. Yes, I was painfully aware that this was exactly the problem I was trying to avoid the night before when I'd let him go out and caused all this trouble.
Saturday morning we woke up early, loaded the car, and were in pretty good spirits, all things considered. The last thing we needed to do was shove Sarge in his crate and ship him off. We trapped him in Oscar's room, and managed to get him in with less than usual difficulty.
Feeling quite pleased with myself, I made my way out the front door and was on my way to the car when Sarge threw himself at the caged door of the crate, causing me to lose my balance and fall forward to the ground. The door popped open and though I clamored to get ahold of him, he ran full speed across the courtyard and around to the back of the building. Heartbreaking.
We were so close. SO CLOSE. And now with only an hour before the fumigators would show up, there'd be no hope of retrieving him in time.
Defeated, angry, and hopeless, we drove off to the hotel, sending vibes out to Sarge to stay away from the building and have fun living in the wild for a few days.
To be continued...