When I was a little girl I used to talk to animals, not just pets but insects, especially ladybugs, snakes in the zoo, bees (“go away!”), birds, sandcrabs. After a while I stopped doing it in front of people because, you know, it’s not cool.
Now that I’m old, though, I’ve taken to doing it whenever I like, regardless of who may be in earshot. People don’t judge you if you’re old and talk to animals, they expect it. And/or they can’t wait to get old enough themselves to start doing it again.
This morning I saw a really fat pigeon on my walk by the Estuary. I have a super charged Springer Spaniel who went right for it but it was so fat that it took a minute to take off.
When it did, I said, “Hi, Fat Pigeon.” Just to be friendly, like you do.
“You’re pretty fat yourself,” it said back. (They’re awful. Garbage eaters. Prolific poopers way out of proportion to how much they weigh. No wonder the French eat them).
“Okay, yeah.” I said. (I am pretty portly). “But I’m not trying to fly with this body.”
Then I thought. Wait. Am I? And if I’m not, why aren’t I?
I used to take this same body leaping across ponds and puddles. I jumped off tree branches and trampolines. Diving boards. Small, manageable boulders. Rafts. Docks.
I used to spin and take reckless grand jetes across spung wooden floors. Once in a great while I even paused there, for a second, in flight. Gravity is constant but, I found out, you can trick it with your thoughts.
Then I found out exactly the opposite. That being inside a body could tether me to this time and space in ways both fantastic and humbly terrestrial. That I could bear children and feed them, nurture men and please them, that I could grow tall enough and heavy enough to pass the bar for any ride I wanted to go on and a few that I wish I hadn’t taken.
I found out that broken bones heal but that broken hearts don’t always. That hair comes and goes in various places, that breasts go out and then go down, that flossing actually does make some big crazy difference.
I love gardening, I even like doing the dishes. I love to lift things and build things, to spackle and paint, to saute vegetables and melt butter and toast walnuts and make brownies.
I have loved the experience of being a part of a family that I helped create and a part of one that I only, luckily for the most part. Inherited.
Being earthbound has, on most days, been good to me. All in all, I’m having a pretty good time so far.
Except that this morning, when that fat, nasty pigeon leapt up in front of me and took to the skies, oh, how I longed to fly after it.