5.9 The Bird
There is a lie that has been going on for too long. Always told I'd be alright, there'd always be people around me, I was likeable, agreeable, always ready to please. People go away, lives get cynical, thoughts get cynical. I didn't want to please, but it wasn't up to me cause I woke up one day, not just in a day, a series of days, many days, and there were no more people for me to please. The lie for many years was I was surrounded by people, people everywhere doing things I'm doing, talking about things I'm talking about. Then the language changes, the experiences narrow. The vision of what I hoped to become narrows. And I stopped talking to people and they stopped talking to me.
It's easy to get isolated and in a way I welcomed it. The problem occurred when I spent too much time with myself. When relationships happen, they are doomed. Cause really, what do I have to offer someone except my aloneness? I went through a period like this, it's not pleasant, but when you don't even know you're in it, how do you get out of it?
In the French movie Time Out, the protagonist has lost his job, and fearing what his family will think, he pretends to go to work everyday and just drives around. How lonely is that? I thought. Well, I thought that until I started to drive around myself. This was how I generally spent my nights. How lonely is that? I'd just drive around aimlessly with no real thoughts, just passing time.
Passing time, Jesus what an awful term.
And then I started waking up every morning and feeling a certain way. Everything kinda sucked. My back started hurting, my head groggy. I didn't want to talk to anyone and they didn't want to talk to me before at least well past noon. My coffee machine broke and I'm back to my crappy one cup at a time machine. Come to think of it, most things around me are for one cup, one person. Got a silver bullet single server for single people blender, but goddamn it, the frozen fruit I bought is always frozen together and I usually just give up chipping away at the skull sized fused together mound of three blend berries. The shower's too hot, then too cold. The weather's too cold, the sun's not hot. I get in my car and sit for ten minutes trying to get outta my place cause there's too many cars on the road and they're all in my damn way. Pull out into traffic, sit, look at the poor sack next to me, the one in front, the one in the rearview mirror and wonder if everyone thinks this is really what we should be doing with our lives.
Go through the day having reductive conversations. Emails that are unproductive. Phone calls. Phone calls in this day and age? Power lunches eating unclassified foods. Back to the office and somewhere in the afternoon when it's getting dark, cause it's that time of the year when it gets dark in the afternoon, and the lights are buzzing and all I want to do is sleep, sleep deeply and without breaks or causes or effects so I practice sleeping with my eyes open. Doesn't work.
At the grocery store I'm walking down the aisle and see a woman with a kid in the cart another on the way, the man with a forty dollar haircut, gleaning white teeth straight as razor blades and I stop and think, They've got it all figured out. What they've got figured out I'm not entirely sure, but they've got it. And I'm waiting on the subway on the subway platform and a loud rumbling comes but it's not the subway, it's a teenager riding a skateboard - he's riding a skateboard inside - and I'm envious of his innocence, his ignorance over what awaits him. And I'm at the bar at a time when I've had two too many drinks and the bartender a woman with a tattoo peeking out of the midriff around her belly button and guys are talking to her and she's talking back and looks so comfortable in her skin, so herself. What has she figured out that I haven't? The next morning there are messages from a forgotten woman who is angry and wanting to know why I haven't asked about her new place and why I haven't asked about her, her, her, but I remind her that we're in this together and I talk about my FEELINGS and she only wants to know why I'm dumping all this on her. But I thought you asked? I thought that’s what you wanted?
Go back to work, repeat the process. In the afternoon, go outside cause I just needed some fresh air. Flailing around on the ground between buildings is a bird. It's on its backside, flailing around, trying to flip over. Kneel down beside the bird but there's a fence between us. Watch as it stops, its small chest heaving at the effort. Next I find I'm talking out loud, Come on little bird, come on.
Really just a moment, something I didn't quite recollect until afterwards, but I thought about all these ridiculous things I'd been thinking. About how I am so good at looking outwards at what other people have and wondering why they seem so much more comfortable. Maybe when that woman in the grocery store was giving birth to her first child, her mother was suffering from cancer and when she was bringing life into this world, someone was dying. And now she loves this kid with all her heart but there is a small part that reminds her every time she looks into the eyes of her child of that loss. Maybe that kid on the skateboard is unpopular and awkward at school and he just needs someone to tell him to hold on, hold the fuck on, cause everything will get better. Skateboarding inside where he shouldn’t gives him strength. Maybe the bartender has an open heart and because of this, she's been in relationships with men who take advantage of that, and every time they do, her heart closes a bit more with every one that ends badly. Maybe the angry woman in my life has problems of her own, maybe she needs help, help that I can't provide, and I must let go of control, let it go, let her go, let us admit that we are unhealthy for each other. The neurons in my brain are firing cause just even thinking about these people as people, not as objects to make comparisons to, they are three dimensional with all the good shit and bad and making them more human makes me feel more human and I felt I wanted to demand the stories of others, the full story, everything, cause otherwise what the hell else am I doing here except passing time?
But these thoughts were all combined in a brief feeling cause the bird started flailing around again, trying to flip over. Hold on, bird, hold on. There happened to be an animal hospital next door to my office. Hold the fuck on bird, I'm getting help. Went in, explained to the nurse, the nurse came out with me around the building. Come on, hurry up nurse, hurry. The nurse much braver than I, we found a gate that got us on the other side, she talked to the bird, took it into her arms, thanked me for getting her. Followed her back into the animal hospital, the vet said she'd take a look, that she'd help. The nurse and vet walked away into the back and I just stood there.
I hope the bird is okay. I hope they fix whatever is wrong with it, that it heals and the nurse takes it in her hands out the backdoor and once the cool spring air rustles through its wings, the bird instinctively opens them and flies.