This is where I tell you just what I’ve been struggling to do for the past couple of weeks, likely wandering around the city more during this time than during the last several months put together otherwise. Why? To find a good plush kitty, with realistic proportions and colors, and send it to Andra. Or, more specifically, send it to her mother and add a note saying that it’s actually for Andra, seeing as I have no way of knowing whether she managed or even tried to get back to Romania for the holidays.
What’s the point? Who knows. The idea simply struck me shortly after the start of the month and I knew I had to do it, so I took things one by one and hoped I’ll manage in time. Then I of course also had to hope that the parcel won’t be refused and that she’ll be here for the holidays to see it, since that’s why I sent it now after all, but these were things I could have no control over. My part was to find such a cat, somehow manage to purchase it, find a suitable box, package the cat in the box, do my best to ensure that the address I have is still the right one and then send the parcel to said address, hoping for the best.
I started, as you’d expect, by searching on-line. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything I liked on my own, so I more or less dropped that idea and started to actually look for one around the city. The first day I did this was Thursday, December 8, but I didn’t see anything I liked then, in fact hardly seeing any cats at all. That stayed true for Friday and Monday as well, as I didn’t go anywhere during the weekend. The first real glimmer of hope was when a friend pointed me towards some on-line shops I hadn’t found myself, where I stumbled upon one that I thought was just about perfect. However, the shop’s actually not from Romania and the shipping would have been 35 RON, which seemed like an insane amount to spend on shipping, plus that I really wanted to be able to touch it myself before buying it, to get a feel of its quality.
Seeing as at that point I was starting to think that what I was looking for didn’t even exist, that glimmer of hope was crucial to keep me going. And it was also a good omen, as the next day, on Tuesday, I finally saw something that seemed somewhat suitable (the one on the right, with black) in a shop from here. It didn’t look as good as that other one and it cost more than I had on me at the time, but it was a plush cat that I could theoretically get and, as I realized the moment I picked it up to look at it, the materials it was made from were of excellent quality.
Still, the fact that I couldn’t afford it at the time meant that I had to put it back and look somewhere else the next day. However, said next destination was the place I think dad usually goes to when he wants to buy food and other such things for a longer period of time, so I told him that I was going there to look for something and could pick something else up as well if he writes it down and gives me the money for it. That resulted in a little note with a couple of things written on it and an amount of money that exceeded the price of the items written on the note. Rather surprisingly, it also resulted in me finding some other plush cats, at less than half the price of the one found the previous day, once I got there. The quality was also significantly lower, so I wasn’t keen on them, but they were an option.
The next day, Thursday, was my deadline for getting the cat, so I absolutely had to get one of them. Since I had been told to keep the money I had been given the day before, at that point I could afford that one found on Tuesday, but I still checked out another place first. It was only when I convinced myself that there was nothing else of comparable quality that I went to finally pick it up. I even somehow managed to ask whether they had other models, but they said it was the only cat they had. I guess I was rather lucky that nobody else bought it first, though the price could somewhat explain that, seeing as many will look at that before looking at the quality, especially considering the current economic situation.
After spending the next three days resting a little and wondering where could I find a good box of just the right size, I went out again this Monday. Unfortunately, on top of not finding what I was looking for, that “trip” also resulted in me getting lost, as I tried to go past the place I meant to get to and my “mental map” somehow ended up reversed. It took me quite some time to reach a place I knew how to get back here from, but that still was an improvement over the next day, when I somehow managed to get lost first, never reaching the place I meant to go to. When I eventually made my way back, after dark and with my feet rather worse for wear due to having worn my boots, which are a bit too tight, I was starting to get quite desperate. I was running out of time and, though I had the cat, I didn’t have a suitable box to put it in.
The problem is that, while there are several factories that make boxes, some of them offering dozens of models and allowing customers to pick the sizes and place orders on-line, they’re all meant for companies, having minimum orders in the hundreds. As others who tried to ask this question on some forums from here quickly found out, most people who need a box that they can’t find already lying around tend to go to a random shop and ask someone to allow them to have a look at the boxes that the shop in question would otherwise just throw away anyway, possibly in exchange for some loose change. As a result, a person who wants to actually buy a good box will have an extremely hard time finding one, since shops know that very few would be interested and therefore tend not to offer plain boxes.
I did all I could on-line, even asking the courier service that I planned to use and also the Post. However, the reply from the courier service said that they don’t offer boxes. The Post normally should, but I couldn’t see any in the offices that I looked through and the reply to my message said that only the management of each individual office can know what boxes they have, so to ask around. And, of course, if I could ask around I would have gotten one from a random shop, like most people do, instead of wandering around like this.
Fortunately, that same friend who had helped earlier advised me to check out IKEA, and I did notice something on-line, though it was rather big and could only work if those “handles” could be covered. But I had no other ideas, so I went there, on foot from the metro station that’s closest to that part of the city. Actually, IKEA is pretty much outside the city, so getting there meant walking for almost exactly one hour, despite going as fast as I could whenever I was able to put some more speed into it, mostly along a wide and very busy road, occasionally needing to squeeze around large puddles and at one point even having to go straight through a lot of mud because the sidewalk was simply gone. This last part meant a few centimeters of mud stuck to my boots, requiring me to spend quite some time to get the worst of it off, and the speed I tried to put into whole thing also meant getting sweaty, unzipping my jacket and breathing through my mouth, which my throat is now paying the price for. But at least I got that box, because those holes are actually covered until you poke those bits of cardboard out.
Finally, on December 21 I had everything I needed and the cat was fully dry as well. It says it can be washed at up to 30°C, so I had washed it a little Sunday evening and, despite me trying all I could do while keeping it in my room and without putting heat on it, it took a good two days to fully dry, and leaving it for one more day after that seemed only sensible, so I couldn’t have sent it any sooner even if I would have gotten the box earlier. Not that I wanted to send it any sooner anyway, as the original plan was actually to send it between Christmas and New Year’s.
Either way, after struggling some more, as it’s the first time I package something like this, it was in the box and pretty well protected from anything that could happen to it on the way. I had also done all I could to confirm that the address was still valid and find an associated phone number, so all that was left for Thursday was to write a short note for Andra and add it inside the box, then more or less seal the box and send it. But, of course, writing that brief note was extremely hard, as I was shaking all over but still had to somehow make it be far more legible than my handwriting usually is. Not to mention that it was very hard not to say certain things all over again.
Still, I managed to do all that and went out yet again. I think I could have had a courier come and pick it up instead, but I had kept everything hidden until then and didn’t want my parents to know what I was trying to do before it was all done, so I chose to drop it off myself. Of course, that required me to actually interact with people, and they seemed to feel like being funny too, so I made quite a fool of myself, at first not seeing the scale despite it being two steps from me, then not knowing what to do with the box, then having to pull out my phone and check before I could give them my number… But at least I somehow made it through it all, though I was dizzy, frozen and shaking all over for the rest of the day.
Today I saw the confirmation that the parcel was delivered yesterday, which obviously means that it wasn’t rejected, so at least it worked well up to that point. Now I’ll be nursing my throat and feet, trying to put the fear and embarrassment behind me and waiting to see what, if anything, will happen next. Since it was sent on her mother’s name, I obviously can’t even know whether Andra is even there these days to see it. And even if she is, seeing that she even put me on ignore as of some two months ago, I can’t reasonably expect any sort of reaction. But I can at least hope that she won’t hate something so sweet and cuddly just because it’s from me…
In the end, I simply felt that I had to send her a very nice, soft and extremely cuddly plush cat. And, for me, looking for something like this, buying it and then also sending it is absolutely insane. I didn’t really think that I could do it until the very end, and I obviously wouldn’t have put in even a quarter of this amount of effort for anyone else or under different circumstances. But it’s for her, the circumstances are as they are and I’ve spent over six years waiting. I guess it was about time to do something a little more direct. Since now I’m also on ignore, it’s not like I have much of anything left to lose.