Visit one lasted about three minutes after the workshop. I had gotten so pitifully lost in the country on the way out to Alexander that, as the workshop was breaking up, I asked if I could follow somebody back into town. Ann was going to be patiently (?) waiting in her car for me to finish up.
Camille the intern got Oliver out of his cage. I tried to breathe. He was beautiful. He seemed calm. He was quiet – especially compared with the cacophony of bird screams and calls that had erupted since we entered the aviary.
(Does he mind me being here?) No sign of that.
(Is he interested in me?) Why do I think yes, maybe? I can’t really tell.
“How old is he?” (Questions I had not thought about asking before being in front of him.) “I don’t know.”
“Do you know any of the story about why he’s here? What’s his life been like?” “No.”
“Does he talk?” “Yes, but I don’t think he’s a big talker.” (Although I still didn’t hear him talk at Visit 2, she apparently is wrong about this.)
And then I was out, with lots more questions than answers.
Ann had indicated that after the parrot workshop at Phoenix Landing (out in the country, in Alexander) I could get a chance to meet Oliver. She had given me no indication why she thought Oliver might be a good match for me. I was one mass of big questions:
What makes you think I’m going to be a good parrot parent?
Will he like me?
Will I like him?
Who is this lovely young intern taking me to meet him?
About three years ago, I knew a guy named Sal who had 13 parrots. I never did understand why. He was an odd guy and much of his life was used up taking care of these birds, but it always seemed like they gave him a lot back too. I remember being really interested in the parrots. I didn’t like him enough to want to go over to his house and see them but I wanted to get the information about the adoption center where he got them. It’s the same place I’m going to now.
I didn’t know what drew me to these birds then, but I’m starting to get some hints now.
Because I am meant to open up my kinship with this other part of life.
I’ve never had a bird – I don’t know birds. I want to.
Because once in my young life (grad school?) I was obsessed with birds – bird watching, thinking I had been a bird in a previous life time, flying dreams.
I’ve had flying dreams through my lifetime.
One of these dreams – the last one I remember having, and many years ago – was so vivid that i went out in the backyard believing that if I just could remember how I focused my mind in the dream, I would in fact be able to fly.
There is so much I need to learn about parrots – it will really preoccupy me, take my mind off my depression. (It already is doing this, even without a physical parrot in my house.)
Because at two months since Toni died, I’m not through grieving her. I go to a “Pet Bereavement” support group twice a month and I want to let that process take its course.
Because I don’t want to try to have a new dog “replace” Toni. I want to savor – sit with – just what a special dog she was and what a special connection we had.
Because my ornery self wants to violate the expectations of all those people who ask me “Are you going to get another dog?” Not totally violate their expectations. I will often also offer the other half of that truth, after “No” or the softer “not yet” – “I can’t picture going through life without another dog – but just not yet.”
This picture of a dog and a parrot says it all for me. I use it under my email signature. I believe in the Kinship with All Life. Nicole, Oliver’s caretaker, has two dogs. A parrot is likely to live a long time. I like the idea of a parrot and a dog.