May 2, 2012
When we bought our house, between signing the closing papers and moving in, a bird’s nest had been assembled in the corner of one of the pillars on our front porch. I had a lot of time on my hands then. I was going through this tough transitional period in my career post-leaving cable news, but pre-making a go at writing full-time. This nine-month period was both incredibly difficult, but rewarding in the long run. I didn’t trust myself enough yet to actually feel and act like a writer (no solid work on the horizon), but I knew in my gut it was what I left a bustling newsroom to do. But to write what and for whom, I had no idea, and instead of gaining confidence with each passing day, I got weaker, filled with self-doubt and sank into quite a funk. We really are our own worst enemies, aren’t we?
Buying this bungalow was a fresh start. We were out of our one-bedroom apartment in Midtown that was cramped and overflowing with wedding gifts still in boxes and into something that was ours. The move and purchase of the house felt very adult and like there was no going back to our carefree ways of stumbling home from a pub in Midtown, and because we could, walking up to a patio bar the next day to begin day drinking with brunch.
I was intrigued by the nest and would watch it each afternoon while sitting on the porch swing, getting fresh air, waiting for my husband to come home from work, anxious to have someone to talk to besides the blank computer screen reminding me of all the stories I’d yet to write. All the articles I’d yet to publish. The momma bird let me sit and watch her. We sort of built an unspoken understanding that I was just going to observe, never disturb, whatever she was guarding in that sturdy nest she’d built.
Then, there were babies. Out of nowhere four teeny baby birds with mashed down fuzzy fine little feathers and beaks so small–but with so much to say–appeared, peaking out over the nest. Chirping all the time for food. It was the most incredible sound, those baby birds at mealtime anxious for whatever the momma gathered for them. She worked tirelessly to feed them all, and it never seemed like enough. Their little baby bird bellies were bottomless pits. Each day, outside on the front porch, I watched it all and they let me.
Then, just as soon as they arrived, they left. I watched it happen with one, the first to leave the nest. He puffed up his little chest, started flapping his wings with all his might (flap, flap, flap) and just when I thought he’d give up from exhaustion, he carried himself up out of that nest and landed just a few inches away. He stood, perched, looking around at his remaining siblings still in the nest in awe of what had just happened; then, he took off for good. Never looking back. I bawled watching that bird leave the nest. Knowing I’d seen something so special and miraculous at once. It took a couple of tries, but he flew the coop. The others soon followed, but I missed all that, and the momma left soon after the last of her babies did.
And now, six years later, on the opposite side of the front porch, we have another bird’s nest. This one is much harder to keep tabs on, the momma won’t even let me so much as open my curtain to take a peak before flying off, leaving her babies hungry, chirping for food. Mostly, I try to leave them in peace. They say a bird pooping on you is a good omen. I think these things are made up to make you feel less bad about it happening, kind of like it raining on your wedding day. I’d like to believe that the temporary home this bird family made on our front porch can only mean good things are to follow for all of us that live both inside and outside this dwelling on Ormewood Avenue.
This time around, I didn’t pay as much attention to the babies, not because I didn’t want to, but because I know they need their space. And it’s also because here, six years later, I have a life of my own. The first brood I was so enthralled and mesmerized with, these, not as much. It’s beautiful watching a living thing develop, but only they can get strong enough to flap those wings. I can’t do it for them. Just like no one else could give me the courage to actually start my own business and write full time. I suppose, I left the nest this time around. Between then and now I grew enough of a voice to actually venture out.