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In the summer of 1990, my mother, my little sister, and I took a two month trip to Taiwan, leaving my father with only the company of the family cat, a gray tabby named Bubba. That was the first time I ever had to leave a pet in the care of someone else. It was also our first return to Taiwan since we’d emigrated about six years ago, so there was much to distract me from thoughts of my dearly missed pet. Nevertheless, I still rushed through the apartment doors upon our return home, eager to touch that familiar fur.

What a shock it was to be greeted by the enormous girth that Bubba had acquired in our absence. He had managed to fill out to the sides and spill out from the bottom, fully inhabiting every roly-poly B to his name. The jarring transformation was softened by witnessing the obvious bond he had formed with my father, who had apparently forged his own relationship with the cat and bought his love with a steady supply of roast beef sandwich scraps. Bubba had always been a mooch for people food, but no doubt those months alone with dad, who was learning to feed himself on a daily basis let alone the cat, had contributed to the urinary tract condition that eventually killed him less than a year after our return.

These are the memories that lurk, as I leave my pets yet again… this time, as an adult, with two dogs, and for an unavoidable research trip back to Taiwan. This time, I’m leaving for four whole months.

I’ve been away before. The longest trip prior to this was three months, when I flew off for summer language training and it was a house of just a single Bow left with RJ. There have also been occasional vacation-time dips into overseas archives and international conferences to deprive me of a few days to a few weeks of their company. This is the nature of my field of study and chosen line of work.

Over the years, Bowdu has become sensitive to the meaning of suitcases.

20130805 Imminent departure

And just as I left on Wednesday night, Bowpi started keening as well, amped up by tension in the room that she didn’t know how to interpret.

I hate that I can’t be in two places at once.

I hate that I live in a world where traveling with pets is still so expensive and impractical. RJ is the only person that I trust to know their quirks and to cherish them the way I would, despite it all. He stays behind because he’s the only person who feels as responsible to them as I do.

He’s no doggy “daddy” and I’m no “mommy” and the Bows are not our “furbabies,” but damn if these creatures have taught me a thing or two about the pleasures of nurturing another…

The House of Two Bows will continue blogging sporadically, though I am in absentia. I’ve got a backlog of drafts to clean up, and there are dog-related pursuits as part of this trip that I will eventually reveal. Of course, my cameras are in tow, so the sightings shared on this blog may look very different in the upcoming months. Meanwhile, RJ promises to send me regular updates, which will be shared with discretion. Suffice to say, the blogging schedule I’ve held steady for the last three years will not apply through the remainder of this year.

Thanks for reading and sticking with us, anyway. We’ll continue to check in from time to time.

Soundtrack to this entry:

I would watch as you was sleeping
To make sure you were still breathing
You live so fast without seeing
This eternal youth is fleeting

Oh, take care of my baby
Take care of my baby
Take care of my baby
I don’t think he can do it himself…

Dum Dum Girls, “Take Care of My Baby”

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