Last Monday started with a low growling from my dresser drawer.  I was heading to Korçë, had less than an hour to pack and something creepy was going on.  Brandishing a broom and a rug thwacker,  I looked a little closer to see snuggled and squirming among my unmentionables, a mama-cat and her newborn brood. “What the f***?”

Aghast, I did what any person with newborns would do and left as quickly as possible.  It’s not that I dislike cats.  It’s just that I don’t want them in my life, much less in my drawers.  They are icky and leave a lasting odor . . . and dry placenta.  So I walked away, and told everyone who would listen, “Guess what I found in my underpants?”  Ultimately friends would ask, “What are you going to do?”  to which I replied, “I’m heading to Korçë Beerfest 2012.  I’m going to get drunk.”

I never did actually get drunk.  Enjoyably social, yes – until around midnight.  That’s about when I turned back into a pumpkin.  An exhausted, slightly i mërzitur  (pick your definition, they all apply) pumpkin.  Danielle and I said our goodbyes and tried getting clear directions back to our host, but of course no one could remember.   I had to wake up Denis, alternately texting and calling, until I finally got what seemed like reasonable directions, but in the dead of night, it turned into a strange social experiment wherein we walked down every single alleyway trying to piece together clues from our addled memory (“I think there was a blue Mercedes.  Look for a blue Mercedes.”) and trying the key in every single door (“I think the door had glass.” “I think the door had metal.”  “Maybe it had glass AND metal”).  We were narrowing in when Denis came and got us (And we would have had it too…eventually).

I was finally able to lie down.  After a night out camping on a rough hillside in Voskopojë, a futon is a heavenly embrace.  Deep breathing settled in.  The muscles relaxed and I could feel that slight “ungh” sensation as the spine released tension. I could see dreamland through the expanse of darkness.  They’re calling to me . . . on my phone? It’s Sara and Brenna. They were lost. I know I texted them clear directions earlier. F***.

I answered the phone, in no state-of-mind to talk and it took a few sessions to get them on track, though eventually I had to leave the apartment to collect them in the early AM.  Fortunately I did.  I found them just down the street and feeling slightly unnerved, and whatever mërzit I was feeling went away.  We have to look out for one another, even when all we want to do is roll over.

I got back home around Friday afternoon and looked for non-cutesy kitten care-taking instructions, bought some food for the mama cat (apparently they need to eat a lot and well, while nursing) and checked on the creatures.  There they were, still squirming about, and somehow looking slightly more precious, the little bastards.

“A strong man stands up for himself; a stronger man stands up for others,” Ben the cow to Otis in Barnyard