The Ghosts Of Valentine’s Day Past: In Which Ami Cohabitates With Seven Cats

Whether you’re currently single or coupled up, it’s always interesting to ponder how different your life might look if you’d made different relationship choices along the way. What if you’d stayed with the wrong guy, settled for the good-enough guy, gone on one date instead of another, or said “yes” instead of “no” (or vice versa) at a crucial romantic juncture? In honor of this month’s lovey-dovey holiday, we’re taking you on a tour or our Ghosts Of Valentine’s Day Past — exploring the strange, sad, and silly possibilities of our romantic lives that, for whatever reason, weren’t meant to be. Here’s Ami’s story…

When I was 13, I fell in love for the first time. Like, sleep outside so I could stargaze and stay up all night writing tortured poetry in love. His name was Jeremy and we met backstage on the set of “West Side Story,” a community theater play I was in with his older brother. Two star-crossed lovers from rival high schools. Once I got up the nerve to talk to the cute guy with the long-brown hair and the baja hoodie, I learned that in his spare time he liked to played the guitar and smoke pot. During our courtship, he made me a mix tape featuring his favorite tunes from The Cure, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and of course, the song “Jeremy” by Pearl Jam. It was love at first site, as we labeled it, and we often talked about running away and getting married … if only we had drivers licenses. But there was just one problem: his cat and my allergies were not compatible. That, and the fact that he cheated on me with a girl named Amy (the more common spelling) and broke my heart. But mostly, the cat. In my alternate universe Valentine’s Day, Jeremy and I are still together and here’s what we’re up to…

It’s Valentine’s Day afternoon, and Jeremy is at band practice. AGAIN. The Fractals are recording their 12th, self-produced album that no one will ever hear. But somehow, that doesn’t stop them. They make albums the way rabbits make bunnies. I just got back from another audition. This one was for a community theater production of “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.”  They probably thought I was auditioning for the part of the cat, since I am forever covered in cat hair from our brood of felines. There are seven of them: Robert, Anthony, Eddie, Bjork, Bono, PJ, and Mick. They are our biggest source of our marital discord.

See, Jeremy has this crazy idea that I’ll become immune to cats at some point — that I’ll wake up one day and my allergies will disappear like magic. I try to explain to him that I’ve always been allergic, since we were 13 and his cat Herman gave me what I thought was a case of pink eye. Over the years, I’ve tried different tactics to get Jeremy to give the cats up for adoption. But he doesn’t seem to care that I live my life an itching, sneezing, crusty eyed mess. He doesn’t care that I have to change the litter in a gas mask and hazard suit. He refuses to budge when it comes to the cat issue. Whenever the topic comes up, he cries. At that point, I usually tell him to get a real job because working as a clerk at the Valley Ho Inn a few nights a week barely covers the cost of our vet bills. Then he cries some more. He cries a lot. And smokes even more pot.

I decide to try to clean the litter without resentment this time. Impossible. I open seven tins of Fancy Feast. My stomach turns at the smell. Seven kitty tongues rush to eagerly lap up the gloppy goop. I want to barf.

Just then, Jeremy barges through the door of our apartment. He’s home from band practice early.

“I fed the cats again,” I say, pissed.

“I have something to tell you,” he says. “I’m in love with another Amy.”

“Amy from high school?” I ask. “Amy from high school who works with you at the Valley Ho?”

He nods. “She’s a modern dancer on the side,” he adds.

“I’ll bet she is,” I say, feigning anger.

But really, I’m relieved. I’m free to live a life without him now, a life without cats. I can move to New York, like I always meant to. I can get a dog. The possibilities seem endless.

I throw a few of my things in a bag and then decide to leave everything — too much cat hair.

“You can keep the cats,” I say, as I slam the door behind me.