Don’t Fear the Red-winged Blackbird: Lessons from Adulthood Part 1

It’s been almost a month on the job, at least sixty cups of coffee, and probably close to a million words journaled (I can round up can’t I?), so I figured it might be time for another blogpost. What, my avid readership (aka my bored brain) begs, have I learned so far in my journey towards a meaningful life?

Not all that much, but I’ll see what I can do, avid readership.

Let’s start with a story.

I love birds. Everyone knows I love birds. Well-known fact. Especially red-winged blackbirds. They always remind me of the attempted prairie in our back acre growing up, before it got plowed up for racehorses or something like that. I’m not bitter. Anyway, the point is, I’m a big fan of birds.

But apparently no one told that to the aggressive mother blackbird that set up nest directly between my apartment and the grocery store. The first few trips were relatively uneventful. I noticed that the blackbird seemed a bit more active than one usually sees. “Interesting,” I thought and carried on.

Turns out, she was just testing the waters. And she must have caught a whiff of fear, because the last time I attempted to purchase my weekly rations of Cheetos and Greek Yogurt (they balance out, okay?), what should appear screaming out of the blue but my dear friend the red-winged blackbird. Claws flashing, beak wide with fury.

I did what any mature adult would do. I ran cursing down the sidewalk, swinging blindly with my grocery bags until I reached the stoplight at which point the blackbird stopped diving at me and I pretended nothing had happened.

Needless to say I haven’t been to the grocery store since.

Now comes the part of the post where I attempt to fabricate meaning out of a fairly dull story.

The first few weeks at my new job, I was not my friendliest or best self. I was overwhelmed. It makes sense with over 700 other new-coworkers, thousands of acronyms, and a campus the size of a regional airport. But I was still disappointed with myself. I had gone in hoping to befriend people instantly, encounter the huge group of like-minded individuals and then spend the rest of the month making friendship bracelets and Lord of the Rings collages.

But I did not. I was tired. I was cranky. I didn’t speak to many people or smile as I’m used to doing. I cried through several nights. (Unfortunate friends who I called at late hours of the night can attest…Sorry, dudes.)

It turns out all that stuff they say about transitioning is actually true. Turns out not getting to see your best friends every single day is actually hard. Turns out paying bills and cleaning the toilet and buying paper towels and cooking scrambled-egg dinners and then scrubbing out the pan is just about exactly what it sounds like it will be. Turns out you can’t write a short story unless you sit down and actually write a short story. Turns out buses smell funny. Which is to say I found life pretty hard for a while despite all the amazing wonderful things happening around me.

Until yesterday when I decided to have the best day of my life.

I got out of bed and looked at the window at the gray sky and said, you know what, this is beautiful. I brushed my teeth and enjoyed the taste of mint and the feeling of bristles against my gums (you knew I was weird). I walked to the bus stop and smiled at the people on the bus. I talked to people. I embraced the idea that my life might not be epic at every single moment (yes, that’s a pun, folks), but that it was all I had anyway.

I decided to swallow the scary and frustrating bits and allow them to become something more. I decided to make the red-winged blackbird beautiful again by sheer force of will.

I’m not saying anything startling or new. I’m just saying I found a way to make the cliche workable. Which is cool.

Tomorrow I’m going to walk to the grocery store. I’m going to look that screeching, irritating, terrifying bird in the face and I’m going to laugh and purchase my extra sharp cheddar cheese and hummus anyway.

Of course, I will be bringing along an umbrella to act as a shield. There’s only so far you can stretch a metaphor after all.

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2 thoughts on “Don’t Fear the Red-winged Blackbird: Lessons from Adulthood Part 1

  1. Pingback: If You’re Going to San Francisco | What All The Kids Are Doing

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