“I miss her, God,” I said aloud, my heart filling up with a familiar aching. I had just arrived home from work and my thoughts had turned to my last girlfriend.

“I know you’re doing some work and all, but damn, I really do.”

I wandered around my apartment for a bit, unsure of what next to do. I knew of things I could do, but nothing seemed to fit.

So I did what I always do to clear my head. What I always do but never did do until a few months ago—I go outside to tend to my bird feeders.

They only needed a top-off but that was enough for me. It didn’t really matter what needed to be done as much as I needed something physical to move the feelings through.

“Wait . . . back up . . . bird feeders?” you ask.

Yep. Bird feeders.

In some bizarre twist of a narrative I couldn’t have imagined (<—there it is again) or even begin to explain, over the past three months I have fallen madly in love with birds. Specifically, the birds outside in the courtyard trees facing my apartment.

What makes this nearly untenable, however, is the woman I recently broke up with had (or still has, I hope) a bird, and she’s the main one I want to tell but can’t (see previous post The Conundrum of No Contact). And my neighbor, who I might turn to as a close second, gave me this job in the first place—when he left.

So I put on my hat, one of three by now, that are large brimmed and birder-like. I am almost embarrassed to admit I own them, if they didn’t work so well to shield me from the 100+ degree sun. After surveying the feeders from the top of my stairs, I brought down the proper water and seed containers I’ve since accumulated. And not looking anywhere but forward, I headed straight toward the station (a tall pole with several hanging hooks on it) standing in the center of the yard under a very large pine tree.

Suddenly I heard it, the familiar squawk I’ve come to listen for and adore. It sounded incredibly close—too close—for even the lowest branches high above. I looked up and then reflexively ducked as a flash of green and blue fluttered down about three feet in front of me.

It was a lovebird.

I froze in absolute astonishment that this wild bird would be so very brave. (Yes, the Phoenix Metro area has a population of wild love birds; 2,000 of them were last counted in 2010.) Several flocks appear at the station regularly, but I’ve always watched from afar.

“Well who are you?” I asked, not sure if I was trying to make the bird or me feel more comfortable.

It looked at me for a moment, cocking its little head right and left.

It then proceeded to jump onto the peg of a half-filled feeder and started munching away. It was as nonchalant with my company as if we both had reservations at dinner. I started talking at a measured rate, while taking on the role of wait staff/server.

ME: It’s so nice to see you. How are you doing this evening?

BIRD: *munch, munch*

ME: How do you like that seed mix? It’s very popular.

BIRD: *munch, munch*

ME: I have a few other varieties here. Would you like to try a different one instead?

On occasion it would look up, dare I say, directly at me as if interpreting. And just when it seemed poised to fly away, it would jump to the water bowl for a drink and then back to the feeders again.

I couldn’t believe any of this was happening. It felt like pure magic.

A few times there were warning squawks back and forth between my feathered friend and its flock above us. But for whatever reason (and seemingly against the advice of the others), it stayed and didn’t seem to mind.

I moved slowly and carefully, and at one point we were only a foot away from each other. After dinner it wiped its beak on one of the metal arches, preened a few feathers, and closed its eyes several times, as if it was sleepy and needed a nap. I wondered if this lone bird was fearless, someone’s lost pet, or just incredibly naive.

At the end though, it didn’t really matter. What mattered most was that something completely unexpected happened that night. It reminded me, once again, that even though I think I know, I never know what is coming. And all I need to do is put one foot in front of another, even when it feels hard.

“Give God the opportunity to show off,” I once said to a sponsee who was struggling. I often find it fascinating how the things I say come back to help me in return.

In my stepwork (or rather “traditionwork,” as coined in the previous post Ascertaining Anonymity), I am reading and writing on Tradition Eleven—which speaks, in short, about attraction not promotion. And here that work is, yet again, playing out in my life. I didn’t make that happen. I just asked for help, did what I always do, and stayed open.

Perhaps this is the most tangible way of turning it over (and getting through hard things) I can get.

“Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible.”
—Anonymous