My owner Anya bought me from the pet store over a year ago, when I was still a baby.  She and her two boisterous kids picked me because I was the least expensive hamster.  After the ten minute drive we were home, and I was thankful to discover that they had prepared my new aquarium for me in advance. Everything was thoughtfully accounted for: the warm bedding, the metal wheel, my plastic igloo, water, food pellets. If I was like my siblings back at the pet store, I would have been thrilled to my little tailbone to have Anya as my owner. Unfortunately for me, I was not like the others and when the children and their mother went to bed, I set myself to the arduous task of planning an escape. You see – I wanted to be free.

Time went by and I developed several highly specialized skills to carry out my plan. With my razor-sharp claws I learned to climb the slick glass walls of my confinement. I would labor tirelessly, night after night, trying to climb higher and higher. Anya suspected nothing because her limited visual perception made it seem that I only floundered helplessly against the walls of the cage, unable to make any real progress. My movements were so minute that nobody noticed what was going on.

Later I enhanced my repertoire by learning how to balance on top of the spinning wheel. This was a great accomplishment because I was able to pull myself up without causing the wheel to spin, and then from it I could grab the side of the open aquarium and climb out. In fact, this is how I escaped. Twice! What transpired during those few days of freedom shall go down with me to the grave untold. But eventually I was cornered and the well-meaning albeit deceived owners put me back into my “home”.

Having tasted freedom twice, I was compelled to try to achieve it again. I learned how to climb up my water bottle, grasping the ring of the lid and pulling towards the top of the cage. The problem here was that beyond the rim, the rest of the bottle was completely smooth, with no grips to hold on to. I realized that freedom could be achieved only through patient perseverance, and began carving out hand-holds in the bottle using my claws. When they’d wear from the work I had to rest for several days until they’d grow back out. Given this method, my calculations told me that within another 349 days I would reach the necessary depth of hold to be able to scale the bottle and climb out. I fell into a good rhythm, working on this daily, and by day 238 I felt confident that my plan was going to work.

But then the unthinkable happened.

Anya decided to buy me a new cage. Granted, this new one was a three-story multi-colored kaleidoscope of hamster entertainment. Anya and her children made a big deal about the upgrades and talked at lengths about improving my quality of life, both physical and emotional.

I could have easily settled there and made my home in the warm, cozy fabric strips on the ground level. But again that pesky need for freedom got in the way. And so, the very first evening I did a thorough inspection of my new living quarters and found several weak spots. The most obvious one was the metal bars of the cage itself. Given my rate of chew, I calculated that I would break out of this “home” within four months.  Encouraged by this new development, I began chewing that same night.

I will never forget the expression on Anya’s face as she peered at me while I was gnawing on the green metal. She looked sad, disappointed and slightly disgusted. I could have gotten angry at her for judging me, but I didn’t. You see, she does not know herself well. It is obvious to me that she bought me the new cage not out of the kindness of her heart, but because of the guilt that she felt about keeping me under lock and key in the first place. She also relates to me on a deeper level and feels that my physical imprisonment resembles her spiritual state. Since I understand this and she does not, I shouldn’t hold her disgusted scowl against her.

In fact, when all is said and done, I am quite fond of my owner. I do not take her quirks personally, because she cannot help it. Her narrow-minded thinking is inherent to the human condition.

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