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Extended Family (Feral Cats)

Location Trial #4

My friend June and her husband ultimately moved to Phoenix - it's a little less edgy than San Francisco and they preferred the climate. Old West Highway -bound a few years ago, I visited them for a long weekend and took an afternoon for myself.

Phoenix isn't much of a "walking" town, so I had June's husband drop me off at the nearby Encanto Park, picnic lunch and a good book in hand. As I wandered around, I tried to notice every little detail around me. I frequently did this exercise when I hiked, but I'd never actually put it to use in an urban environment. I watched, listened, smelled. I sat down near a bench to feel the grass, and I opened my mouth as I crossed a bridge to taste the moist desert air.

I noticed a stray cat and tried to coax him over to me, but to no avail. A little girl joined me and we began prowling around in pursuit of kitty friendship. We kept seeing more and more stray cats! Speculating on the color trends, origins, and lineage of the Encanto cats and swapping stories about our own cats, we ended up establishing a connection between ourselves rather than with the cats. Eventually the little girl departed with her mama, headed for a playground on the other side of the park.

 

I decided to show the cats that I was no threat. I laid down on the grass to read my book. Dozing off a few times, I had the most psychedelic dreams! I woke up acutely aware that I was too prescriptive with most things in my life. My students and my family needed to learn things for themselves through experience. And these cats and myself also.


 

I worked really hard, finally convincing one of the younger cats to become my friend. Our domestic-feral bond was unique to our time and place, but I think that it was precious to each of us. He was brave enough to step outside his family's comfort zone and trust me to pet him. He enjoyed the massage so much that he became more assertive about getting - and maintaining - my attention. Gradually, other cats converged nearby, curious and cautious from a distance. I had developed a bond with them as well, albeit different than the one with the little leader. I would have loved to stay with this feral family of cats all afternoon, but I was just a visitor


Instead, I rented a boat and decided to see things from a different perspective. At the boathouse, I saw a vision from my dream - a green parrot having a grand old time! Well, there is something to learn from a boatride, I supposed. Indeed, just as I had felt elated by winning over the cats' affection, I felt elated when I arrived to the middle of the lake and looked around: the challenges and processes of the journey were as much responsible for my happiness as the accomplishment itself. An accomplishment by itself would not be an accomplishment. And working

together with my boat, the oars, the water, the girl, the grass, my dreams, and the little kitty leader were as satisfying - if not more - than achieving my goal. Though, admittedly, I only fully appreciated the satisfaction upon achieving the goal.

No - I was not on drugs. June and her husband had become increasingly conservative since their move to Phoenix.


And I took one last stroll around for perspective - to the rear of the boathouse this time. The area united everything from that afternoon. I peaked in through cracks in the fence and saw cat food set out for the "feral" cats. I saw boats propped up for repair. And I saw a familiar number-letter string on the fence.

 

Souzas, Ravelos, Garcias, Freemonts, and Williams, I know that you are all loyal to me. I've been asking you to revisit some of my favorite travel destinations to prove your loyalty to each other and to the truth and to the journey. I want to open secret pieces about our family tree for you - but I should let you unlock them yourselves (together). That number-letter string that I saw on the fence symbolizes the convergence of so many things that I learned about myself, my outlook, and life that day. It also represents a new way for you to unlock some of the mysteries and journeys that you have been pursuing. You do not need Taylor to tell you so many things. Everything is simpler - and more complex - than it seems.

In fact, if you ever repeat any of my activities - like the boatride or befriending one of the feral cats - I will know that your family is SMARTER about learning the truth. This is true now and in the future.

 

LOYALTY POINTS AVAILABLE:
1st family: 10 points
2nd family: 9 points
3rd family: 8 points
4th family: 7 points

BONUS ACTIVITIES:
- earn 5 TOUGH points if you row a boat
- earn 5 SMARTS points if you befriend a stray cat

GETTING BONUS POINTS:
- Take lots of photos!
- Be sure to display your family crest somewhere in one of the photos (do not photshop it in)
- If you have receipts, photograph those as well!
- Post photos with tag "lgfl" on flickr and send to taylor (taylor dot garcia at g mail dot com)

 

NB: The easiest way to complete this trial is to visit (or have a trusted family member visit) the location referred to in the solution to the The Bast Curse.

 

Contact Taylor with Questions and Solutions!
taylor dot garcia at g mail dot com