During the 20 minutes I was interacting with Olive through the bars of his cage, there was another middle aged guy (now I’m middle-aged again, that’s been gone for kind of a while – parrots make me feel young). This guy had just been part of the educational workshop upstairs. He seemed very interested in Oliver and had lots of questions. He paid very little attention to the five or so other birds in the room, mostly just looking over my shoulder at Oliver. “That’s my bird!” I didn’t actually say the words, but they popped up so loud in my head that he might have heard them. The primal quality of my territorial reaction startled me.
Then Nicole came in with adoption information for him and me. “I don’t have the actual application form – you’ll have to print that out from the web site.” I heard him say, “If I get the application to you on Tuesday…” My mind started to race: “Bastard! He’s going to steal my bird out from under me. I’m going to print out and complete the application tonight and bring it back tomorrow. Never mind the one-hour round trip. No mind all my other plans that already added up to a full Sunday. Somebody will be here -somebody’s got to feed the birds.” Then he left.
I tried hard to be nonchalant, chatting with Nicole – I’m sure I didn’t pull it off. “So it sounds like he’s decided on a bird.” “Yeah.” “What, uhh, bird is it?” I was sure that Nicole was going to say, “Oliver – I’m sorry.” “Moses – he’s in a placement that isn’t working out. The woman needs to give him back. Fred and I went out last week to meet Moses and Fred is sure that’s the bird for him.”
Have you ever felt absolutely sure of something, something disturbing, and then suddenly found out that you had totally been making up a story – and a story that tormented you? It can be very disorienting. That’s what happened to me. It took me a few minutes to get it back together. What helped me do that was that I blurted out to Nicole exactly what had just happened, we together had a good laugh at human folly – then she told me an almost identical story about herself – and also picking out a bird! It was very freeing.