I’ve gone north to New England for the holidays. Right now I’m at my old desk, in a high school bedroom that remains forever stuck in 1999. I’m looking out the window at the new white snow, and at the old crows tiptoeing around on it.
At first there was just one bird. Now I see four, five, six of them. They’re lined up on the strip of yard my dogs use as a bathroom, taking turns picking up and carrying away pieces of whatever my golden retrievers deposited this morning. For some reason, this captivates me. It’s like an outdoor grocery store, but the lines are shorter and the food is shittier, and the customers seem less bitchy.
And in at least one way, I wish I could be those crows. Morning finds them content and without expectations, comprehending little about their world. I know far too much about mine, and from it I expect more than I deserve, more than it can give or cares to offer.
Insulated, I sit here in my warm capsule and stare at aging walls. The things hanging on them reflect who I used to be a decade ago, as does too much of what I write. I reflect on how I’ve changed, but can I ever change enough? And I worry about things trivial to birds and bees. I worry about the coming holiday, I won’t come bearing gifts. I worry about milestones, diamonds I couldn’t afford and didn’t want to, and what that may mean. I hope my company and companionship can substitute for diamonds, hope my heart alone can be enough for one more year, a surrogate symbol, proxy validation for sisters and aunts who prefer to look at rings, eyes that only understand promises when they shimmer. I worry about my dissertation and whether or not some academic journal no one reads will decide to honor my submission with a “Revise and Resubmit.” As if that way lies wisdom…
But wiser creatures, they don’t live like this. I envy the crows, naked and homeless as they are. For them, stumbling upon a dog turd during their daily trek barefoot through the snow brings genuine happiness (or, at least, more than I might expect to find if and when I see my name in print in the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography ).
And if ever there might be some perspective in this crazy world I try to live in, it will be neither my past nor future nor parents nor friends nor lovers, who come along to provide it for me. My role models today are the impromptu custodians in my backyard, naked and homeless indeed, and for the moment they keep my head strangely clear. But serenity soon will fly off with the birds that brought it to me. They are like me in the end. They too eventually will hunger for more.