Monthly Archives: April 2007

Fortune Falls

Today, I watched a bird suffer and die.

I was finishing my meal at a chinese restaurant, about to crack open the fortune cookie, when I heard a rattling slap on the window to my left. Seeing no one outside, I looked down to see what had hit the window and there it was, fluttering on the sidewalk. Small grey bird with generic brown markings, short but pointed beak in black. The beak was curled downward at the tip, most likely from the impact. Five people trickled by in the first minute; it fluttered and tried to get away from them but got no further than two feet from where it landed. The people noticed, some bent over to see it, but sensing the need for more help than they could invest, they walked on. And I sat inside watching.

I don’t know if the wind was knocked out of it. I don’t know if it was dazed, but for a bird its movements were erratic. The damage was obvious. It pulled its wings in, tried to get up on its feet but failed in standing. Its head twitched and its mouth was open as it tried to breathe. The breaths were deep and fast, and then shallow and fast, and then its eyes lowered and closed. The breaths were shallow and slow, and then nothing. A few seconds of motionlessness, and then its tail and legs twitched. I have seen a death rattle.

The fortune cookie read, “You will be showered with good fortune.”

The horror of death is to die alone and unnoticed. I could not help this bird to live, but I was there to help make its unfortunate death meaningful. I paid attention. The biblical verse of Luke 12:6 says “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.” This bird will not go forgotten.

On My Second Week As 35

Reflecting on my life and where it is now. Turned 35 a week ago; I’m almost at the statistical halfway point until death. Sometimes I feel halfway dead already, and that’s unsettling. Starting to see further signs of growing older.

As I sat down to write this entry, I cued up some music, logged in, and sat with a blank form; the words didn’t come, and the music was keeping them away. I’m now seeing what our parents went through, that mental focus gets harder and harder. I’ve said before that I can’t get any work done at a coffee shop unless I have relative isolation; the same is true when writing journals. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. I had to turn the music off so I could think. Nothing but the drone of my computers’ fans; no distracting sonic impulses, no melody to carry my thoughts off like so many children behind their pied piper. I don’t want to be this way, but it’s a progression that’s been occurring for a few years. I guess I’m finally starting to recognize it.

I had an old flame come into town for my birthday weekend; not that she came in specifically for that, but she was travelling and stopped over for a few days on a coincidence. It was a true pleasure to see and spend time with her.

I had settled it within myself that I would be over and done after pining for her, holding a candle for her, for many, many years. And yes, I was done, resolute to move on. She has her life, her love, her choice; though we had a brief, jubilant shout of greatness years ago (with a few echos), her life was her life, mine was mine, and that was that. I sighed as I watched her drive away out of my life for the third time, but after being on a high from the greatest birthday weekend ever, I didn’t mind so much. I felt 29 again. I could conquer the world. I could date around. I could move on.

The nirvana didn’t last long; I foresaw that the depressive crash to my intense manic phase was imminent, and like a self-fulfilling prophecy it happened. Midweek. She and I are on the phone; I’m keeping her company as she was driving through Mississippi on to her home. She said she missed me. There was something in her tone that made me doubt my own resolve to move on. It cracked my foundation.

By the weekend, she made it home at last and got settled in with her new life and new love, and I was here aching and debating with myself. I felt withdrawal; cold, lonely, hungry. I knew what a heroin addict feels when he needs a fix. It’s that hunger, the desire to feel warm, loved, whole again. It hurt. She had nothing to do with my state but to say she missed me; that pebble started the avalanche that revealed the mountain of physical, mental, and social loneliness and longing that’s been hidden underneath years of snowy denial and distractions.

Enough time has passed since this revelation; my neurochemicals are somewhat leveled again. Still a little pensive, but that’s my nature. I don’t feel so bad about the whole thing, but I’m still left with the knowledge that I need someone in my life. It’s a bad, vulnerable place to be, sexual politics being what they are. I guess my best move is to keep my guard up and try to be the awesome guy I know I can be. Beyond that, it’s anybody’s guess.