Continued from page 1
At 3:30, Jan and I settled down to unpack while Picasso explored every nook and cranny when she wasn't rolling and purring to express her joy. "You love me! You really love me!" Deep down, she's insecure even though she shouldn't be. But hey, aren't we all?
No need to give you play-by-play on all interruptions to our unpacking. Lemme just skip ahead to part where Picasso vanished.
Harry came by with former tenant, Mr. Yang. I was wiping up spill from a broken bottle of Tabasco Sauce, and Mr. Yang walked right through it to show me how gas works. This was his instructional bit. Here's gas, here's power, here's water...
Suddenly, Jan wondered aloud, "Where's Picasso?" Oh no. Did she slip out door when it was open and run away? All four of us were in a state of panic as we looked all over flat.
I went downstairs and saw all trees, bushes, and just generally good hiding places. I walked around saying "Picasso" or meowing, making neighbors wonder if first wei guo ren they'd ever seen moving into their apartment complex were representative of species.
Then I returned home hoping they'd found her. Nope. I tried upstairs this time. There's a gate at sixth floor that's locked. It occurred to me that if I were a stranger and saw Picasso wandering around, I'd take her home. I went back downstairs and looked around some more, then headed back to flat hoping they'd found her.
No such luck, but Jan was coming down to take over for me. China Telecom had arrived, and allegedly I could tell installer what to do, even though I speak neither techie nor Chinese. Good thing he didn't need my help.
Outside, Jan was retracing my steps. Inside, Mr. Yang was opening every cupboard door in place looking for Picasso. Almost like a cat burglar, except that he wasn't ransacking. He was just looking for a cat. He's a very sweet man, by way. He and Harry couldn't have been panicking as much as Jan was, because I don't think it's humanly possible, but they weren't far behind.
I was confident that Picasso was simply too clever for all of us, and was hiding somewhere we hadn't looked yet. Never mind that we'd tried every place we could think of. I'm a hopeless optimist, or maybe I just know my daughter.
I have no idea how much time elapsed before I noticed that a desk drawer wasn't completely shut. Picasso can go behind desk, climb through a little hole, push drawers open from behind, and climb inside. I peeked into drawer and saw two frightened little gold-green eyes. I quickly left room.
"I found her," I told Harry. "She's in a drawer. Just leave her there." He nodded his understanding and sighed his relief. Then I went outside.
She responded from gate at sixth floor. I told you she was retracing my steps.
"I found her. She's in a drawer."
Jan and I entered our home just in time for me to hear Mr. Yang saying, I presume, "A drawer? Which one?" and then opening all desk drawers until he found her.
Second from top. The one I'll always keep empty.
Earlier, unknown to me, Jan had told Harry that whenever a cat moves into a new home, first thing she does is find a place to hide in case of danger. How true that turned out to be. Meow!
Of course Picasso wouldn't leave us. Optimist or not, I was justified in believing that. We didn't abandon her. We're better than people who stuffed her in a Hong Kong donation box over two years ago, and we're sorry about three-week separation that preceded her journey to Hangzhou. This time, she rode in a taxi with us. She hasn't stopped thanking us yet. As Harry himself said almost a year ago, "She really is a part of your family."
Picasso's been with us through five years, two provinces, three cities, and seven Chinese flats. We currently reside in Hangzhou, where I bicycle around on quests for tuna and cat litter while Picasso stays home being beautiful. She's the star of my free weekly newswletter, WHO MOVED MY RICE?, http://www.chinarice.org