The night that my beloved hedgehog, Quincy, was hurt, Adam and I had tried to bring him to an animal care clinic on the airport road, called the Humane Center for Animal Welfare (HCAW). It had been a couple of (sad) weeks since my hedgehog experiment(s), and since then, Adam had done some research on the place and we discovered that not only was it funded through Queen Rania, it also provided either free or low-cost services for pet owners such as grooming, adoption, boarding, etc. More importantly, they offered fostering programs for kittens.
On the great checklist of life where it asks you if you prefer cats to dogs, I am a person that will proudly mark cats (although corgis have recently started to balance out my pet preferences). I grew up with cats, and there have been only very brief periods in my life that were spent without at least one cat around me. And one of the saddest things that I had to deal with in Amman was the overwhelming number of street cats.
The street cats broke my heart. However, there wasn’t much to I could do about it. Even though I wanted to adopt them all, I couldn’t, and as much as I tried to convince people that these animals just needed good homes, the conversation always fell flat. I had notice a (tiny) tangible pet culture has started to (very) slowly penetrate the Amman market, but overall, people simply don’t have the money (never mind the desire) to have a domesticated animal.
I had the desire for a domestic cat, but nevertheless, I knew that I was living in Amman for a limited amount of time, and I felt it too cruel to adopt a cat for a year or so and then have to abandon it (aka find a new home for it) when leaving. But my life just seemed empty without an animal companion. I was determined to find a way to have a pet, and so, after extensive research (I should mention that I love researching things pretty equally to animals, i.e. a lot), I had discovered what I believed to be the perfect pet:
The Jordanian desert hedgehog.
I had been out of school for awhile and was looking for a job that did not include teaching English as a foreign language. I was making ends meet with freelance writing projects here and there (my favorite was being a documentary script-writer for a Saudi program called “Islamic Windows”) – enough to pay rent and buy food, but nothing incredibly stimulating. I was ready for something real, and more importantly, stable.
Over the past two years, my life has been filled daily with news of Syria. The news varies from hopeful to horrific, and the news sources vary from Western media sources to first-hand accounts by friends. Particularly in an Arab Studies program, a bad day for Syria often signifies a bad day for all of us. I’ve attended vigils, remembrances and lectures in order to show my support and solidarity with the movement. And each time I attend an event, it serves as a reminder of my own (brief) foray into the Syrian Arab Republic.
Adam and I had been dating since March, and as the end of June rolled around, I still had yet to meet his family. He was really insisting, even though I was convinced that I was not prepared for what meeting the family would entail. As much as I loved him, our relationship was never easy, and never without problems – and yes, this was mostly due to the fact that we were in a multi-cultural relationship. I mean, it drove him crazy that I ate French fries with my hands (he called it “uncivilized”), while I would tease him equally incessantly about eating his with a fork (obviously this is an incredibly minuscule representation of multi-cultural problems, but you get the idea). I knew that meeting his family would simply make things more complicated, because I would no longer be the faceless girl that he would meet for dinner, coffee, etc. I would be expected to socialize, and ideally become part of the family.