Today, November 15th, 2008, was:
The day I sent my first law school applications in for review.
The day I got my components back in working order.
The day I saw hundreds of thousands around the US and the world take to the streets in the hope that people like me will eventually be able to be legally married to the ones we love.
The day I saw up close all the different kinds of people engaged in that fight, and knew two things for certain - there is nothing dividing us, not race, religion, or anything else, that can't be overcome; and yes, it really is just a matter of time, and the clock, history, and now the momentum are all on our side.
Today was the day I felt so proud of Katie for marching alone in Phoenix. I mean, she didn't go by herself, she was with friends. but nobody dragged her there. She got up early and went because she wanted to go and thought it was important, and she marched from the City Hall to the Capitol and back (if you know Phoenix, that's hella far). That's my girl. :)
Today was my good friend's 30th birthday. She's accomplished so much, I hope she's proud of herself, though I know those warm fuzzies are in short supply these days. Anyways, I'm proud of her.
Today was, sadly, also the day I lost my sweet, funny little birdie. She died sometime this evening and Katie just found her a bit ago. I'm still all weepy over it and probably will be for days. If any of you all out there are thinking to yourselves, "What the heck? A bird? Who cares?" let me tell you her story. Try not to get all weepy yourself! :)
Her name was Saavik, (after the Star Trek character. Thanks, mom) and she was a beautiful blue-fronted Amazon parrot. My mom got her when I was 6 or 7 years old, and boy, was she a talker... she had quite the vocabulary in those days. I think the previous owner said she was somewhere between 3 and 5, so, let's say she was a little bit younger than me today, probably close to 30. If you don't know, those sorts of birds can live to be 60 and older if they don't have any health problems.
Unfortunately, Saavik did have health problems. When I was 10, and I'll say she was about 7 or 8, she got lead poisoning from chewing on her cage. She had seizures and was foaming at the mouth, and my mom and I rushed her to the vet, where she was diagnosed as very near death. We were told that she could probably be saved, but the treatment would be extremely expensive. My mom was beside herself and somehow talked my grandparents into coughing up many thousands of dollars for the treatment and medication that she required. She stayed at the vet for two weeks, got a little better (out of the woods anyways) and we were finally allowed to take her home.
She was never the same again, however. The poisoning had crippled her for life, and stripped her of her vocabulary. When we got her back, she was so weak. She couldn't even stand and learned to drag herself forward with her beak. For a long time, she lived in a little kennel in my mom's bedroom, because she was too weak to climb or move her wings or do any of the stuff that permits birds to get around in a cage. For months, we had to give her physical therapy: we would lay her on her little bird back and massage her twisted little feet and work her little bird legs for her. We had to hand feed her, bathe her, do everything for her. In those days, we took her everywhere. Sweet little soul. She took it all in stride.
As time passed, she improved a lot. She could never flap her wings again, but she eventually could sort of shrug them and that was really cute. Her little feet were twisted and gnarled for life from the paralysis, but eventually she stood upright just fine and could walk around on the ugly little things, in time gaining enough balance to stand on a perch. The amazing thing about her was her toughness and brightness, she just kept going, and every single thing that made her weak, she compensated for in some other way. Since her feet didn't really work, she used her beak to climb, to balance, and to steady her movements, and after a while got a nice muscular neck going, so she could do everything pretty much as well as any normal (less special) bird. :)
She never got her vocabulary back, but in time she created a whole new lexicon of sounds and would whistle a whole song for you if you gave her the chance. Her favorite was the wolf whistle, which she was just showing off for Katie's mom the other day. She loved all kinds of music, and more than anything, she loved to dance. Her favorite thing in the whole world was if you'd come up to her cage and whistle or hum, and sway back and forth from side to side. She would just dance and dance, swaying right along with you, doing this crazy thing where she turned her head back at a most improbable angle over and over again, shrugging her little shoulders. Aw hell, I miss her so much already. I'm totally crying now.
Saavik lived with my grandma for a long time after my mom died, until my grandma died in fact, and the two of them just brought each other such joy. Now that is a memory that makes me smile. My grandma loved the crap out of that bird, pretty much everyone did who spent any time around her. Just ask Katie if she was any kind of bird lover before, or would've described a bird as having any kind of bird personality, much less an incredible one. LOL! Katie remarked on how much joy and fun we all had together, and how the bird is probably now reunited with my grandma and my cousin Virginia who just passed away, squawking while they try to play cards.
I have a million memories of the bird that make me want to bawl right now, but that will no doubt make me laugh my head off one day. I won't bore you with all of them, but I will share just one. One night, Katie and I are making dinner, and I start singing the guitar riff from "Wipe-out" to the bird (one of her favorites). The bird loves this stuff and starts to dance like a crazy bird. I get a big kick out of this and go sing to her and dance with her at the edge of the kitchen, where her cage stands. She loves this and starts singing along, and she and I are just singin' and dancin' up a blue streak. Then our fat cat Cecil gets jealous and decides she wants in on the action, jumps up on the table next to me and starts standing on her hind legs and pawing at the air and mewling along with us. The three of us are dancing and singing our asses off, Katie and I are dying laughing, and Katie just says, "I love you guys".
That's the kind of joy she brought into our home. I will probably write more about her later (believe it or not), but for now I'm honestly just exhausted and heartbroken. She was so sweet, so personable and funny, a tough little cookie, and just a bundle of happiness for the cost of a peanut. And that's why she will forever be missed.
In honor of Saavik, who was much loved and made us so happy, here's the close of a poem Percy Shelley wrote in honor of another happy bird:
We look before and after,
And pine for what is not:
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.
Yet, if we could scorn
Hate and pride and fear,
If we were things born
Not to shed a tear,
I know not how thy joy we ever should come near.
Better than all measures
Of delightful sound,
Better than all treasures
That in books are found,
Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground!
Teach me half the gladness
That thy brain must know;
Such harmonious madness
From my lips would flow,
The world should listen then, as I am listening now.