by Natalie Robin

I love coming home, but I am allergic to every animal in my parents house. Unfortunately, one of the main reasons I also come home is for every animal in my parents house. As soon as I walked in yesterday afternoon I promptly found a cat on my bed, a cat on my parents bed, one on my dresses in the dining room that were waiting to be tailored, a dog–having been permanently kicked off his TWO couches in the piano room, now on the floor in the living room, and a large bird waddling around the kitchen floor, talking to himself.

I washed my sheets and blankets twice after kicking Shorty (otherwise called Boris by my brother Matthew despite her Female gender) off of them and I still woke up this morning with my eyes swollen and my nose stuffy. My lips, in some alliance between the animal dander and cold, swell to capacity whenever I wake up here and look like they would pop if I took a pin to them.

In this swollen, stupor of morning I also found Fluffy (otherwise called fluff, fluffanutter, fwuff, kit, keeks, keeks mcgee by me) still on my somewhat glamorous dresses in the dining room, perhaps having been there all night since she seems the most eager to be inside and getting cozy when the air starts to chill. I just look at her and walk by. I would never kick her off even my most expensive dress. I suppose that it’s partially our fault anyway for using our dining room for storage or the holding grounds for future-thing-to-do rather than for its actual purpose, dining, which it does get used for, but only on holidays, also meaning that it will be cleaned out between today and tomorrow for annual family gathering on Christmas day.

I am currently sipping coffee from the never-ending pot of it that always seems to exist when I’m here and manages to taste good even after hours of teasing a burn into the 30 dollar pot. I am writing this on my parents sluggish computer, listening to my dog howl at something I can’t hear and occasionally turning to the parrot next to me, now wrangled back into the cage, and telling him to stop it–‘it’ being various beeps, squawks, cage rattles, toy wrestles, and occasional, repetitious blurting of the 10 or so words and phrases he knows, behaviors that you generally can only find in two-year old children. 

It all seems terribly obnoxious, but it really isn’t–even the parrot seems to ask for my forgiveness when I reach up to stretch and look over to see him stretching with me, puffed up with wings out-stretched; a random leg sticking out to the side for flare. Animals humble me. We’re not so different. I just can’t jump to the tops of book shelves or fly (if my wings weren’t clipped) and I do get irritated by far-off faint sounds, but I doubt I can hear as far. I also don’t give them allergies–or maybe I do. This isn’t supposed to be a moral-of-the-story kind of thing or some holiday slight to everyone who is going to eat a ham in a couple of days. I really just love them.

Happy Holidays.