December 31 (Day 365)
There’s a bird that won’t shut up outside my window. Really, truly, that’s the first thought in my mind as I become aware of the fact that I am awake. Before I even open my eyes, before I move a single inch, before my toes stretch out, signifying that they are there, that I am here, the incessant chirping floods my room.
Like the sun creeping in through the window, painting long rays across the wall and eventually bleeding onto the floor and filling the whole room with warmth and light, this song starts out a whisper before growing louder, more frantic, more near. It’s final destination, for now at least, seems to be right outside my window.
It’s alone – the bird – maybe calling to his friends or family. Maybe he feels lost and is trying to find his way back home. Perhaps he took a wrong turn. Can birds take a wrong turn? I wonder to myself as I look at the backs of my eyelids, as I look at nothing, aware of the nothingness.
I worry for the bird that he’s lost his way, and I’m reminded of the two my family once owned. My dad hated those birds. Their chirps would sound each morning at the first ray of light. Those birds – Blue and Tweety were their names, I think – must have swelled with pride, their feathers spreading inches that must have felt like miles, as they alerted my family that once again, the sun is here. It’s time to get up, they must have thought. They must have wondered what would you do without us in the morning?
Hair disheveled, sporting flannel pajamas and some band tee no doubt, my dad would run from his room each morning to move the bird cage from its usual position in the dining room at the front of our house that was more window than it was anything else, to the kitchen table in a room with mustard walls that so desperately longed to be back in the 90s where they were met with compliments rather than insults from my ever-so-modern mother. One eye open, half asleep, my dad would set the bird cage in the darkness of the kitchen and slump back to bed, hoping to have 15 more minutes of solace before beginning another day.
The birds would be quiet then, their sounds ceasing as abruptly as they began, making us more aware than ever of the emptiness that their calls once filled. They would, of course, as birds do, begin their chirps once more as the sun climbed the sky and cast its beams into the few windows the kitchen had to offer. By then, my dad was long en route to his office job with office men, and it was no longer his concern. My mom, distressingly sprawled across the bed, would then stumble out of her room to the birds, moving the cage back to the dining room before breakfast and backpacks and Mom, I can’t find my homework-s swarmed the kitchen.
The birds would then resume their chirping in the dining room, but my mother must have figured it was better this way, to have them singing in the room with big windows, one less distraction, one less thing to bicker about as my sister and I started our day. I suppose it was probably better for the birds, too. Surely, they enjoyed looking out the windows. I wonder how they must have felt, looking at more world than they had ever seen. I wonder if they felt anything at all. I wonder if my mother considered how the birds felt as she moved their cage each morning. Did she think she was doing them a favor by bringing them back to the windows? Or was it simply the way things were? My dad moved the birds and then she moved them back, same as always, an unspoken ritual in our house.
The weirdest days were the rainy ones where the sun didn’t seem to rise. The birds must have thought they made a mistake, must have thought they accidentally arrived to work early, waiting for a single ray to pierce the window. Waiting for something that never came. My dad wouldn’t move the cage, so my mother had no need to move it back. They would be fed, of course, but no adventure on the days with rain, no new scenery, if only for 20 minutes. I wonder how the birds felt watching the rain. And then I wonder if I’m wondering too much about two birds from 15 years ago.
Eventually, there came a day where my dad decided it was best that we let them go. So that’s what we did. My parents, my sister and I gathered in our front lawn to release them. I remember sobbing, though as I lay in my bed right now, I can’t remember being particularly fond of the Blue and Tweety. I suppose I must have been sad for the change, sad for a piece of my home – however small – to be leaving. I looked up at my sister, who had pleaded with my dad to be the one to open the cage door, a smirk on her face as she released them, and wondered if anyone else felt a tiny hole in their heart, too.
Hesitant at first, Blue and Tweety stuck their heads out before spreading their wings and leaving. They didn’t even look back, I remember thinking as I stared at them until they became dots in the sky before fading into the blueness.
My mother had to buy an alarm clock later that week after Joanne and I were late for school two days in a row.
But now, I open my eyes, only a bit at first as the light pierces in. Still outside, the bird’s chirping continues. I see him, a small blue thing, on one of the branches outside my window. The sky is blue behind him, too, but a different kind of blue, a less alive kind of blue. This bird is living and loud – boy, is he loud – ensuring the world around him knows that he’s alive. I envy the bird, for being so righteously alive. I stare at him, still not having moved from the position from which I woke, and eventually he flies away. As quickly as the sound grew nearer, it fades to nothing.
I hear a silence louder than before, the sound of me breathing comes into focus. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale again.
Then, my alarm sounds. What a horrible noise. I have to get up to turn it off, but it’s all the way across the room. I feel a pang in my chest for my dad to stumble in, one eye open, and turn off the alarm for me as he had done all those years before.
It’s time to get up, I think.
It’s another day.
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