Monday, April 25, 2011

The Story of Willy

How old is Willy exactly and where does she come from? No one really knows. When Ian used to live by himself in an apartment a few blocks from our current residence, Willy would be hanging out on the corner everyday looking cute and begging people who passed by for food, and I think that’s how she survived and got by after her original owners abandoned her.

Like Kevin Costner with the coyote in Dances with Wolves, Ian slowly coaxed her to follow him up the four flights of stairs to his apartment, where she eventually began living. Even so, she still hung out on her old street corner and asked for food everyday even though she was then sufficiently fed. Eventually Ian noticed that she had also been working the other tenants in his building, getting pampered in their apartments as well, making him jealous and even more in love.

One day Ian asked me to house-sit for him while he was traveling abroad for two weeks. Like any young urbanite, who has been depraved of having a pet, I looked forward to the chance, but while I was there that hot summer, Willy only came in through the backdoor twice like a ghost. I was too busy then to really care because I was preparing for my first solo exhibition, dealing with a breakup, as well as taking care of Ian’s new goldfish… A week before, Ian and Yuki had found a baby goldfish in a tree in front of the local hamburger shop- it was in a plastic bag. Someone must have won it at a local matsuri (festival) and decided to ditch it afterwards. Ian found it about three days later. It was almost dead by then, so Ian took it home and raised it in a 1-litre plastic bottle, which originally contained oolong tea. Everyday I would look at Mikan (the fish’s name), and worry if I was killing it because I had never taken care of a fish before. Anyways I was too busy to think much of the cat then.

When Ian finally got back, the fish was still alive and in a new home because I had bought it a tank. A few weeks later, Ian asked me if I wanted to move in to a new place as well with Yuki and him because they were going to rent a house together. I really wanted to because I was basically living in a box back then, but my first reaction was to ask him why would they even want a roommate since they were getting married soon, but Ian reassured me that it would just be nice to have some extra company, and that if they were to live with anyone, that they would want it to be me. I immediately accepted.

When we finished moving all our things to our new house in the rain, Ian carried Mikan in her fish tank down the hill from his apartment. While I was unpacking some boxes, I saw Ian walking down the road with dirty fish water splashing all over him and laughed at his misery. We then went back to his empty place up the hill and carried Willy to our new home. Willy stayed inside for two days… We were worried about how to let her in and out of the house since she was a free spirit, but leaving our windows or doors partially opened when we were gone was dangerous. Eventually I found out that since the kitchen window had metal bars on it, we could leave it open all the time and the cat could get in and out easily through there, so after I showed it to Willy once, she knew how to get around.

About two months ago (about five months after we had moved), Willy began barfing everyday… We realized that it was probably because people in the neighborhood were also feeding her. One day, she showed up with a metal chain around her neck like a collar, which scared us because someone else was trying to claim her. We cut the chain off and made our own collar with our address on it and a drawing of a skull and cross bones to send the message, and that was basically the beginning of our war in our block for ownership of Willy... But eventually the quake happened, we all went a bit crazy, and now things are back to normal… We even got a new fish.

Family Portrait In Front of Our House

Often when we walk up the hill passed Ian’s old place on our way to the train station, we still see Willy hanging out there on her old street corner waiting for people to come by so she can beg for food. At night when we are coming home, if she is still there and we are a bit lucky, she will give up and follows us back home for dinner.