For the first 25 years of my life, I woke alone. I lived with my parents until my wedding day, then moved in with my husband. He works long hours and is often already gone when my alarm goes off at 4:30 am. But, I always wake up with company–my cat Lizzie, and more recently, my kitten Cheese, aka ChiChi.
Lizzie is named after my favorite character in literature, Elizabeth Bennett, while Cheese was named by my husband with absolutely no rhyme or reason at all. She was rescued from behind a grocery store, though, so perhaps her name fits after all.
Every morning when I wake up, Lizzie is curled up in a ball on my feet, while Cheese is stretched out along my leg. Both start to stir when my alarm shrills for the first time, but we all lie still for the first seven minutes after I hit snooze. When the phone goes off for the second time, Lizzie stands and stretches, arching her back and walking up my leg to snuggle. She gets a few minutes of attention before ChiChi makes a little warbling sound in her throat and jumps up to join us. Disdainful, Lizzie leaps off the bed and patters to the doorway while I love on Cheese. ChiChi is always too curious to stay still for long, so soon she jumps out of bed too and waits for me by the door.
As soon as I kick the covers off and my feet hit the carpeted floor, they’re both off, down the hallway and down the stairs, racing toward the kitchen where my coffee and their breakfast await. They mew piteously while I make my way down to the first floor. Lizzie winds through my legs while I grind coffee beans and measure water, but Cheese keeps her distance, still not quite sure of feet. As the coffee machine starts to splutter, Lizzie’s meows reach a fever pitch when I pull the lid off a can of her cat food. I scoop half a can’s contents onto a small plate and set it on the counter, out of Cheese’s hungry reach. Lizzie shows off her vertical jumping skills and is soon on the counter, munching happily away. ChiChi settles into munching her dry kitten food on the floor, and I leave the kitchen with the sounds of morning in my ears…coffee brewing, Lizzie lapping at her wet food and Cheese chomping at her dry.
For 25 years, I woke alone, far earlier than my parents, content to get ready quietly and leave the house for high school, college, or my first teaching job. In only two years, that morning routine has been completely turned on its head, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Waking up with my cats for company is one of the best parts of my day, and brings me warm fuzzy joy each morning. Someday soon, that routine, too, will be erased, when the cries of a baby or the patter of little toddling feet will be the sounds that rouse me. For now, though, this routine is lovely, and I’ll cherish it while I can.