In 2007, we lost our beloved tabby Hobbes to some unknown internal condition. It took him down hard, and post-euthanasia, we were deeply saddened. In my grief, I adopted a cat from a kind woman in Victor who had adult onset of cat allergies. The cat she turned over to me was grown. His name was Harley, and she explained to me that he was fond of killing birds in her yard, and it bothered her. She also demonstrated how she engaged the cat in play, and I was charmed instantly.
When I brought Harley home, we changed his name to Haolie (“howlee”). In Hawaiian, this means “foreigner”, or to be more crass, “whitey”, and sometimes in our house, “cracker”. Additionally, he did meow quite a bit when we took him on, thus “howlee” was appropriate.
Haolie has been a solid cat. He has done unexpected and disgusting things, as is within his cat character. His former owner was right – he is a hunter. For us it has not been birds, but mostly rodents that he will leave in the house for us to find. Or, parts of rodents. Internal rodent organs, really. He doesn’t kill so much anymore. He lacks the necessary teeth. We think he must be around fourteen years old, considering his dental condition.
Recently, Tim and I were discussing our friend Doug. More specifically, his former partner Jodie. I knew that Doug had been married – or had cohabitated in a serious relationship with another local. But it was news to me that her name was Jodie. Also news to me was where she lives – which is in Doug’s neighborhood just outside of Victor.
“That’s funny”, I told Tim. “You know, I got Haolie from a woman named Jodie in that neighborhood.”
He stared at me. “What?” He blinked and said, “Harley.” Doug is a gearhead motorcycle enthusiast. I think we both realized at the same time, in that moment, that we had Doug’s former cat. We both burst out laughing.
We didn’t really even know Doug until about three years ago. He and Tim met through the Teton Arts Council’s ceramics department. We’ve road tripped with Doug, and I am deeply in love with his dog. Like, I am pretty sure the spirit of this dog was somehow connected to me in a former life (can you say “crackpot”?).
And so with the passing of Hobbes, Harley-Haolie was brought into our lives in 2007. We met Doug four years later, and we were friends with him for over two years before we were aware of the cat connection.
Turns out, Doug is allergic to cats. He has been tasked to catsit for us in the past, but his mission was to fill the water and food bowls, not to get some feline cuddle fix. So he never knew. We never knew. In the end, none of us are surprised.
If you’ve been in Teton Valley long enough, you become connected to others without even trying that hard. To be anonymous here, you have to work at it. Staying under the radar is a job. Some people do it, and that is A-Okay. Live and let live. But if you become involved in the community at any level, you are simply known, and that is just the way it is.
There are still chances to meet other long time locals for the first time, but odds are, you will have mutual friends or colleagues. You will have a conversation, compare notes, and realize that there are less than six degrees of separation. You may wonder how it took this long to connect face to face, but you will know deep down that there is an undercurrent of connectivity in this valley. It is there like an ongoing hum beneath your feet, a vibration that propels the soul.
Our cat has been Haolie longer than he was Harley. His journey and ours has become a part of this valley experience, as are the locals that dwell here, and the mountains that surround us all.
I’ll take it.