I felt I deserved a kitten for finishing graduate school. But not just any kitten. I already had two cats, two big, hulking boys who got on each other’s nerves regularly. Both of them I’d raised since they were older kittens. So I wanted a sweet little baby girl, raised from true infancy, who wouldn’t further disturb the already unstable cat hierarchy.
Weeks after graduation, a fellow classmate sent out a mass email about an abandoned kitten in need of a home. I took her in and named her Sasquatch as a joke, sort of like nicknaming the biggest kid on the block “Tiny”. But right from the start, Sasquatch began destroying my ideal vision of her. She aggressively jumped on top of and bit the other cats, trying to play, though they didn’t enjoy it. Born feral, she ran in terror from people. Then I took her to the vet for shots, and she turned out to be he. On top of all this, his tiny size was due to malnourishment. He grew fast, turned out to be much older than originally thought, and even surpassed the other two cats in size. At first, I felt distressed and even cried about it. After all, I couldn’t give him away; with all the cute kittens in the world, who would want such a little monster?
For me, Sasquatch has come to represent expectations unfulfilled. That dream job I almost, but didn’t get. The relationship I thought would lead to marriage but fell apart.
The name that was intended to be ironic, now fits rather well; a myth that just didn’t stand up to reality. If a real Sasquatch were discovered, would it be more interesting than chimps, dolphins, and other amazing animals we know exist? Or are Bigfoot enthusiasts interested exactly because of the romanticized mystery?
This Sasquatch doesn’t have to meet my expectations and desires because he’s real. Real things are appreciated for their unique qualities, such as the sound of his distinct meow in chorus with the other cats, or how he stealthily competes with my oldest cat for the opportunity to cuddle with me in the morning. These were not the kind of details I imagined when I fantasized about my new kitten, but I cherish Sasquatch all the more because of them.
Reality is full of surprises – both wonderful and terrible. I can see how that dream job could have been a nightmare, and I must admit I’m just as excited as I am worried about future career prospects. Breaking up with my high school sweetheart was a long, painful process, but if I hadn’t, I would have never met my husband, the greatest love of my life. Whatever my hopes and dreams, I believe first and foremost in embracing reality. I pledge to appreciate the trail, not be blinded by the myth, and I thank Sasquatch for being my reminder.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.