I've never been an avid lover of birds. This particular fact strikes me as odd considering how immersed I've been in the winged world since starting Birdcage Girl over nine months ago.
When I was little, my parents brought us a pet parakeet. We named her Ariel (after my favorite Disney princess) and she had a lovely combination of yellow and green feathers. Unfortunately, she decided she didn't feel at home with us. Ariel cried whenever we turned on the television and, when we let her out of her cage for some exercise, she'd perch on top of the refrigerator and bite our fingers. When my mother got sick from Ariel's presence in the house, we had to return her to the pet shop.
From them on, I admired birds from afar. When I still lived in New York, I watched blue jays and cardinals flutter from tree to tree in the backyard, looking very much like flying paint. My favorite birds were, and still are, sparrows. I liked sneaking snacks and tossing them for the tiny army of sparrows to gobble up. I daydreamed about owning one and teaching it to do tricks.
There are many different kinds of birds in Florida, some of them as tall as your torso. Every lake is covered in white birds airing their wings; some saunter across roads, expecting cars to stop for them. I still see sparrows here, even though they don't appear as often as I like. It seems as if they are children of the fall season - a season that Florida doesn't acknowledge anywhere but on a calendar. Theme parks are full of birds - whether they are the exotic ones kept in towering aviaries or friendly ducks; if I could be born as something else, I'd probably want to live out my whole life as a Disney duck. Seriously. They have it made.
In my senior year of college, I went impromptu bird-watching with my friend and the guy she liked (the guy who would soon be her husband). For two days straight, we met him in the park and followed him around while he showed us the local birds. We sat on sidewalks and passed around his heavy binoculars. Found baby birds in their nests. I watched in awe as he and my friend examined the bird guide together, their heads together, laughing softly.
But even so, I couldn't call myself a lover of birds. Not any more than the average person.
There's something magnetic about the idea of birds, isn't there? That's why you'll find birds painted on walls, printed on shirts, the icon of many different design schemes. We all want to fly - watching birds do it continues to be inspirational.
For a long time, I kept my head down and just typed out the story of Birdcage Girl without giving much thought to the birds right outside my window. However, in recent weeks, I've paid more attention. And it's been interesting. My friend over at HelloEnaam surprised me with a birdcage; she gave it to me over the summer and I proudly walked to the parking lot with it swinging in my grip. It has a little door that actually opens and closes. Whenever I feel stuck, I like to look at it for inspiration. Remember your roots, right? My main character, Ashlyn, has come so far that sometimes it feels like her days in the birdcage have been but a dream. I'm sure she feels that way too. Being close to finishing puts me in a nostalgic mood, haha.
I've also been on the lookout for birdcages too - and I found a shirt with the print. It's been a pretty exciting hunt. However, there are always some bird-inspired items that make me laugh. One of them I saw today - it's called Snap-On Feathers. It's apparently the "latest fashion craze" to stick feathers in your hair - the commercial for it is... uh... pretty interesting. I'll have to look around and see if people are really doing this. Still, the idea makes me smile.
Image from We Heart It