When I moved to California in October of 2000, I was in a weird place. I had just come back from a year of living in Seattle with complete strangers who turned out to be somewhat crazy, I was unemployed, unsure of what to do musically (if at all), young, single, and… listless. All I knew was that I was living with friends in a beautiful home in Orange County and I had optimism for a life in California. 15 years later, I can say moving here might’ve been the best decision I’ve ever made.
One night, shortly after moving here, I had the most peculiar and relaxing dream. I was walking through a wheat field on a sunny day. Off to the left was a giant lake, and surrounding the field on all sides were giant oak trees. There was even a waterfall up ahead. It was a mix of various nature-esque scenes that I don’t think actually exists anywhere. I was relaxed, almost euphoric. I felt safe, and at home in a weird way. For someone who’s moved on average every 18 months of their life, the feeling of “home” is not a familiar one to me.
Off in the distance, I saw a couple. They were holding hands and laughing and taking pictures and … just being loud. I was suddenly annoyed. Here’s this beautiful, serene place and now there’s fucking tourists, making noises and just.. muckin’ up my whole vibe. Like when you’re in a museum, staring at a beautiful painting and you hear some douche behind you tell his girlfriend random facts he read on Google like they’re his own thoughts.
Suddenly, the couple jumped and started running, kinda towards me – but mostly just “out of the way” of … something. They broke off to my right a few hundred feet in front of me and went off into the forest. But there was a rustling in the wheat. For whatever reason, I wasn’t scared. I was just.. curious. The wheat in front of me parted and a bengal tired jumped out, playfully, and tackled me. Not attacking me, mind you. It was like the way a big dog would tackle you when you get home after vacation. We rolled around for a minute, play-wrestling, then he laid down and I laid my head on his stomach.
As I’m lying there on his stomach, looking up at the blue sky, happy that the fucking yuppie-tourist couple was gone, I said “I just want to.. exist in this place. I want to be here when I need a break. How do I find this place again?”. It seems silly, now, to talk to a bengal tiger – but, remember, this was a dream. Some part of me thought he’d understand.
The tiger said only one thing, while almost smiling (or what felt like smiling). In an almost-growl, he said “Bush-kah”, nuzzled my arm and laid back down. I woke up soon afterwards.
At the time, my roommate was looking for a pet chihuahua. I said “I’m going to get a cat named Bouschka” (I decided that’s how it should be spelled). She thought I was a bit crazy, especially when I told her why. But, eventually a Craigslist post came up that sounded right : “2 striped tabby kittens : free to good home”. The photos were just adorable.
I showed up at the girl’s apartment, she let me in and said “they’re under the table”. Sure enough, there’s two adorable little kittens under the table. I kneeled down, said “Bouschka”, and one of the kitties (the male) ran across the kitchen and started crawling up my leg. Once he got to about my stomach, I grabbed him and he let go and just curled up in my arms. Kittens never let go. This was fucking amazing.
I had found my Bouschka.
I asked the girl “why are you getting rid of these kitties?”. She said “well.. my boyfriend..” and pointed towards the couch, where her boyfriend was sitting. He was a bit of a thuggish character, and he said (and I quote) “those damn things.. always sleepin’ on my head and shit. Maaan… I can’t be havin’ that shit”. Really, dude? You’re that fucking insecure? I just laughed and said “right. right. kitties on the head.. who needs that?”. I snatched up both kitties and drove home.
That night, Bouschka slept on my head and I woke up with him on my chest. I couldn’t have been happier.