May 1 2017

Schooled by Birds

by Kathryn Budig


I was feeling particularly melancholy as I stared out the car door window, the urban New York City landscape whisking by.


I had a few absolutes I was grateful for: the affirming squeeze of my love’s hand as she artfully wove in and out of traffic; the comfort of the passenger seat in my own car, the lack of impending car sickness accompanied by the stress of passive cab drivers that taunt and dredge in the slow lane.


Even with these small comforts, the car was zipping me towards the airport, where I would board a petri dish with wings that would take me far away from family, a land without alarm clocks, and a place that whispers promises of grounding.
It’s been a hard few weeks (years). We’ve been living in a world without answers peppered with wildly complicated questions. Hard work is consistent, but the juicy fruits of our labors are still clinging stubbornly to their lofty branches.

The magic-odometer has been dangerously low.

I continued to gaze out the window, squinting throught the thick morning haze. A flock of birds appeared. At first, they’re disjointed. A mess of wings stewing in a pot of clouds. Then without warning, a shift occurred. An unknown force pulled the birds into formation. A perfect V. The shape shifted seemlessly from one formation to the next, like the mesmerizing dance of a screen saver, or the percent marbled artwork that occurs when a shot of espresso hits a glass of iced milk.

How can they know how to do that? How can such a seeming mess snap into a perfect symphony? Teach me!

My love squeezed my hand as my eyes flickered with their movements — chaos breeding sense. The impossible laughing at it’s own name. Magic existing without instructions. Birds schooling me on the way to JFK.

I squeezed her hand back. The car carving its own artistic patterns on land.
For a moment we synced.
My heart rate calmed.
We’re gonna be okay.