(500) Days of Summer
I have a bird who hates Zooey Deschanel. Which is unfortunate because I love Zooey Deschanel. I was playing Sugar Town one night when he started freaking out. I was afraid his squawking would wake the neighbors so I had to shush Zooey and work in the deafening quiet.
Okay, so technically he’s not my bird. He’s no one’s bird. One day, he just crashed into our house. Swerte yan! my superstitious aunt announced and so we kept him. We sent the maid out to get a cage for Bird (yes, we named him Bird. We are that imaginative.) but it seems she underestimated his size. The poor thing barely fit in his new home. If he escaped from his last home to look for freedom then I’m guessing he wasn’t very happy about where we decided he would live.
For something fluffy and yellow, Bird is pretty ill-tempered. He squawks like a madman when his food’s late. It’s impossible to work around him because he hates all my songs. In the morning, he flaps his wings really, really fast and it sounds like a bunch of winged demons just escaped from Hades to attack me.
My best guess was that he was miserable because he was in such a small cage. Bird flaps his wings but can’t go anywhere because of cruel Physics laws. I took it upon myself to find him a proper home but since I’m lazy and I procrastinate way too much, it took me about a year to find Chez Bird- a fancy, two-storey mansion with rods to perch on and a neat ol’ swing. It was everything a bird could ever want. I was certain he’d be pleased.
He wasn’t. For days, Bird was quiet. Oddly enough, he didn’t like his perches or his swing. He just stood there on the cage’s floor as though his life depended on it. This is for your own good, Bird. I assured him. You wanted this, remember?
I tried to poke him with a cotton bud but he was practically immovable from his spot. He would inch a little but as soon as his white invader left, he’d be right where he started. After some time, I realized he was still living on the floor space of his last home. Move, Bird! I scolded. This space is yours for the taking! He wouldn’t listen. I tried to cheer him up by playing that Incubus song* he enjoys and getting him the expensive bird seed he likes but he just stood there with a hollow expression.
He stopped making strange noises whenever I play the songs that I like. He stopped flapping his wings early in the morning. He wouldn’t even look at me. For days, he stood there as though he was at the end of a long death sentence and I didn’t know what to do. I was puzzled. Why wasn’t Bird happy?
I was happy in my loneliness. It sounds strange but I was. I loved wallowing. It forced me to write. But then all of a sudden, the stars aligned and I got everything I ever wanted: my family was complete again, A and I fell in love, I got promoted*. Why couldn’t I be happy?
For years, I searched for stability and now that it’s here, I don’t quite know what to do with it. What happens after they ride into the sunset? What happens after they pull away from that reconciliatory kiss in the middle of a busy airport? Nobody tells you what happens after the screen fades to black. Nobody stays long enough to see the last of the credits roll. All you should remember is it was a happy ending, done in the way that only Hollywood can.
I let Bird be. I figured he’d come around soon enough.
One day, my neighbor’s daughter asked if she could have Bird’s old cage. She was gonna use it for a project or something. I unearthed it from the mountain of useless junk in the garage. As I walked past Chez Bird with the old cage in my hand, the winged creature made its first sound in weeks.
I don’t speak bird nor do I know anyone who does but at that exact moment, on that unnervingly warm Thursday afternoon, I thought I heard Bird say something. It was strange and murky like water in an unused fountain but I understood it as though the words were my own.
As Bird saw his old cage, I could’ve sworn I heard him say Home.
Peace is beautiful but it’s not for everyone. If you’re not careful, you could find yourself stuck, looking for trouble in an effort to revert to your old self. Don’t get too comfortable, a voice tells me. It wasn’t meant to be this easy.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, VICTOR! I said "bird" twenty-two times for you.