The First Time

I was nineteen the first time I got a pet. A hamster. Why? I’m not sure. But my roommate thought it was high time I did it, and a hamster seemed like a good gateway pet. And it turned out that Sweet Loretta (her name comes from the lyrics to the Beatles’ song Get Back: “Sweet Loretta Martin thought she was a hamster, but she was another man…” or something like that), gave me the confidence to try something more complicated, like a cat.

The first time I set foot in the Berkeley SPCA, the noise was overwhelming– barking and meowing came from all quarters.But I spotted a small gray, white, and orange muted calico kitten sitting quietly in her cage, and I knew she was the one for me. I’d been raised to believe I was allergic to all creatures with fur or feathers, but this turned out not to be the case. I brought Catrina home and we all lived happily ever after, except for Loretta, who soon died from fright, I think. Having a cat sitting right next to your cage and staring, waiting…I think it was all too much for her. Poor Loretta.

But going back a couple of years to another first time…
Lots of strategy involved: the time and location arranged and agreed upon. His house, parents not home. Precautions taken. A few moments, not much build up. Awkward conclusion. Something to check off the list of things to do before you die.Not as romantic or passionate as I’d hoped.

Regrets? I have a few.
I’m sorry I didn’t know more.Sorry we didn’t slow down. Sorry he wasn’t gentler. Sorry I didn’t choose the kind of guy who could say “I love you.” Sorry we hurt each other later on. Sorry things ended badly.

Sorry he died so young.

But I’m not sorry to have known him. Not sorry to have loved him. Not sorry for the time we had.

Gone before….

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