When I first decided to leave New England and go to school in the South, I knew I would be sacrificing a lot of time with my family. Financially, it was not plausible for me to fly home for any holiday break before the end of the semester in December. I watched my fellow colleagues fly home for fall break, and although I was slightly jealous, I knew that I had to get used to being on an abandoned campus during breaks.
Originally, I assumed Thanksgiving would be a holiday spent in the comfort of my dorm room, feasting on expired granola bars that I keep underneath my bed and a hot coffee from the one cafe that is open near me on holidays. But, my wonderful mother surprised me a few days before my birthday in late October with a text that contained information about a flight for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Without me knowing, she bought me a round-trip ticket back home for the three-day break. Although it made no sense for her to spend money for me to come home for such a short amount of time, I was unbelievably grateful.
But the first thought in my mind was not, "I cannot wait to see my parents!" or "I want to see my brother!" or even "I cannot wait to eat actual food again and not sustain myself purely on caffeine and pasta!"
My first thought was, "I finally get to see my two beloved cats."
Now, don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my family. Anyone who knows me is well aware that I hold a very close relationship with both my parents and my siblings. But every time my mom called me to check up on me, I could hear my two little kittens, my babies, squeaking on the opposite end of the phone. My mom even told me that sometimes, when we would talk, they would rub their faces on the edge of her phone as if they could hear my voice.
During high school, my cats were my greatest comforters and even better confidants. Whenever the pressure of an upcoming exam caused my anxiety levels to escalate, my cats were there to sleep on top of my homework and remind me to take a break from studying. Or, if friendship drama became too overwhelming, they would lay across my feet and listen to me talk about some nonsense he-said-she-said situation. They did this without judgment, without an expectation of anything in return. All they wanted was to hear my voice (and probably to feel some human body heat).
Best of all, when boy troubles plagued my life, my cats reminded me that the only love I really needed was theirs. Of course, my mom told me the same thing, saying that "no boy could ever love you as much as I will." At the end of the day, though, my cats won't scold me for having a dirty room, unlike my mother. They'll happily cozy up with my pile of clothes. They might even prefer to have my socks scattered across the floor.
My cats may not be able to verbally confirm this, but I know I have their unconditional support and affection. After seeing them on Thanksgiving, I'll have the motivation to survive through finals when I return back to campus. Plus, if my finals don't go so well, my cats will love me even if I fail all of my exams.
People say that a dog is man's best friend. Cats, on the other hand, are better than a best friend. They're family.