Home can be so many things. It can be the place where you grew up, or the place where you live now. Home can be your favorite person, or even just the feeling you get when you hear a certain song. It can be all of those things at once, too.
Some homes are transitional. But some you never lose. When you return, however long its been, you are renewed.
Tabby’s Place has been a home to me since I started volunteering in 2016.
I had come in to adopt and felt so instantly pulled to this beautiful place that I applied to volunteer immediately. Spend even a few minutes at Tabby’s Place and you know you’re somewhere special, and I wanted to be a part of it.
Over three years as a volunteer, I made friends both human and feline. But more importantly, I found a home. I found a place where I belonged and where I felt surrounded by kindred spirits. A day that started out terrible could end joyful after a few hours cooing at my friend Bacon, or playing with kittens, or attaining rock star status by delivering wet food to the hungry meowing masses.
So when I moved to Colorado, I was heartbroken to leave this home. And I was afraid that I would become disconnected from it.
Now, three years later, I absolutely love where I live and I volunteer at a wonderful rescue out here. But Tabby’s Place is still home. I am lucky enough to work remotely on social media for Tabby’s Place. (If you see a Taylor Swift or Mean Girls reference on our Instagram, that’s almost certainly me.) And as much as I love seeing pictures of the cats, and learning about all the new residents, it pales in comparison to remaining part of the Tabby’s Place family.
And then I walked in the doors, and my fears were proven frivolous.
Old friends greeted me with warmth and joy. New friends told me they’d been looking forward to meeting me. Everyone I encountered was eager to hear how I’m doing and to tell me all about their news and the new cats I just had to meet. It was, all at once, like returning to family after a long absence and like I had never left. Just being in the building felt like being hugged.
I visited with the cats – Bacon seems to know me still, which made my heart do flips – and with the staff and volunteers. I took a million pictures and videos – some for myself, and some for social media use. I squeezed in every last second of time at Tabby’s Place that I could before I had to leave.
And leaving was hard, as leaving home always is. Leaving was hard even when I lived just half an hour away and knew I would be back in a day or two. So now? Knowing I wouldn’t see everyone again and feel the warm hug that lives in the Tabby’s Place air for months? My heart tugged backward at me as I drove away, begging me to turn around.
But that’s the beauty of home. Even if you leave, it’s always there. And I know that on my next visit I’ll feel that warm embrace again.
If you’re reading this, and you’ve never visited us, or you’ve considered volunteering but never gone through with it: come in. Pet a cat, make a friend. Give yourself the gift of discovering this place – and maybe, of discovering your new home.
*Quinn’s Corner, by the way, is a monumental triumph of love and devotion, just like all of Tabby’s Place.
**Somewhere, Angela is reading this paragraph and mentally scolding me for even entertaining such a thought.