|George in Times Square / © Deborah Julian|
Traveling with George in New York City
Of course, I was aware as you would be that a cat's reaction would be different than mine. Until George walked into Times Square on a leash and told us about it, it wasn't as dramatic.
In the illustrated cat books, Travels with George - which I was lucky enough to transcribe for him, having the advantage of fingers and prehensile thumbs - he shares what it was like to visit Paris and New York City with his human tour guides.
His friend, Billy, a black cat, comes along for the the ride.
The trip to France happened first. It was accidental. George sneaked into luggage because he hated the idea of being left behind with cat sitters.
He did not know what a "Paris" was. By the time he returned to America, he acquired the same passion for travel many of us in the other species have.
When costs convinced his people that a "staycation" made the most sense when vacation time came around again, the New York he'd only glimpsed from this apartment window grew much larger and more real.
Getting Around the Big AppleBecause he wouldn't know where to begin or what to look for in the city, George got to see the places people want to see. He enjoyed Central Park the most, with all the grass and trees. Less noise and crowding let him savor the smells and revel in the feel of grass beneath his paws.
At Conservatory Water, he and Billy discovered a duckling piloting a boat.
After lunch, they lounged in a rowboat, recalling their first boat ride on the Seine.
The rest of New York City had his brain racing, trying to take it all in and understand. It was exciting, sometimes too exciting.
A Stroll Down 42nd Street
|Cats and Library Lion / © Deborah Julian|
The NYC Subway was not George or Billy's favorite adventure.
Oh, it was filled with smells, a cat's most trustworthy guides, but they were strange.
"Look at that," one of his human escorts said, "he's thrilled when you open a can of smelly fish, but the subway station, yuck!"
"I'm with him," the woman answered.
And it wasn't just the smells. George hated the noise too. It was louder and screechier than anything he'd heard before.
Soon, he found himself being humanlike, impatient for the next subway train to arrive and get him out of there.
Hurrying up the steps on 42nd Street, he was relieved to see sunlight again. It was noisy still, but not as much, and the smells were nothing to rejoice about. But after a trip through the underground, it was almost a rose garden.
Billy saw the lions guarding the entrance to the New York Public Library. He jumped on a chair and looked at the giant. Unable to resist the highest available point, George got all the push he could from his hind legs, making the leap from tabletop to lion on his first try.
A safe distance made people watching enjoyable. George surveyed the scene from atop a lion while Billy, as he so often did, looked on with envy.
Another Day Another Park
|Cats on a Carousel in Bryant Park, New York|
City © Deborah Julian
Finally persuade to dismount the ferocious lion guarding the New York Public Library, their people walked them a short distance to a surprising park tucked in between towering buildings behind the library.
They found a shady spot on the lawn, and his people got out the water and plastic bowls. Everyone had a good drink. George and Billy took catnaps while the people did what they seemed to have a bottomless appetite for: they talked.
George always found waking up easier than Billy did, easing from there to here with barely a stutter.
Billy, on the other hand, staggered along behind with the woman while they made their way to the merry-go-round.
"How would you guys like to try this?" the man asked.
George blinked, confused by the question. Try what?
"Come on. It'll be fun."
"You taking those cats on the ride?" an unfamiliar woman asked when they approached the carousel.
"Yes," the man said. "We think they'll like it."
"No rule says you can't," she conceded.
Soon, Billy was settled enough to consider a nap beside George on a brightly colored, upholstered bench.
"I think getting on a horse might be too much," George's woman said, giving his chin a stroke.
She seemed to think his climbing up on a lion, the king of beasts and his ancestor, meant he might want to ride a horse. But no, the bench was soft, and the carousel was full of colors.
Then, it began to turn. Twisting to orient himself to this strange experience, George discovered something shocking: a very large cat bobbing up and down behind him, with a saddle.
End of a Long Day in New York City
After eating some snacks and relaxing in Bryant Park, appreciating how far the buildings reached into the sky, George noticed it was getting dark.
"Wait until you see this," the man teased. "Nothing else like Times Square, anywhere else in the world."
But George felt an increasing fear as they walked the next block. Maybe it had been too long a day, or maybe he would never be prepared for the flood, the rush of lights, sound and movement that came over him like a kind of avalanche.
Suddenly, colors began flashing overhead, beaming off the walls. Boom-boom noises meshed with people's voice as if every human in the world was talking at once to penetrate the explosions. Cars and people and lights on the walls raced in every direction at the same time.
"Oh, dear, Times Square seems like a little too much for Georgie," the woman said.
She picked him up and embraced him protectively.
"We better catch a cab from here."
And so, rescued, George and Billy's day in New York ended with a cab ride whisking them from the insanity of Times Square to the comfort of home.
"Maybe we'll try Times Square again when you're more rested," the man said.
But the woman gave him a look.
"I don't think so," she said.
And neither did George.
George and Billy invite you to check out their books and pictures from their travels by clicking here.