Monday, June 18, 2012

Miraculous Birds

Finally some writing-esque news. Cheryl Strayed is apparently doing The Book Tour That Never Ends for Wild, and she's coming (back?) to Los Angeles in late July. I am SO going. If I said I had a special connection to her, that would be wrong, but to say that she's never helped me gain perspective on my own life, or that I don't admire her writing, would be even more wrong. So I'm really looking forward to seeing her in person. July is a banner month, in fact - Singin' in the Rain is coming to theaters for one night only, and I've already bought tickets for that.

And now back to Mi Vida, the continuing telenovela of my move to L.A.

This move has meant that Matt and I, previously spread out over a two-bedroom townhome, now live in a one-bedroom apartment. While not tiny by city standards, it's about a third of the space to which we were accustomed. Our TV/game center, both our computer setups, our living room, and our dining room now occupy a single room, rather than three. It's been an awful lot of work to make it uncrowded and homey, and I still don't love the way the tech is cheek by jowl with the comfy chair and sofa. However, we have no road noise whatsoever in our apartment, where previously we lived on a mainish road and couldn't really have the windows open and still retain peace; we have a slightly vaulted ceiling in the main room due to being on the third floor; and we have a small but pleasant balcony with a large sliding glass door, and before we couldn't use our patio at all due to its smallness and juxtaposition to the road. Even aside from these perks, I am kind of loving the effects of downsizing so far. I truly am creating a space where everything belongs somewhere, and the Raptitude guy was right, it has an incredibly positive effect on one's mental health.

I chose to set up my computer next to the glass door, and one morning while "working" (intermittently staring at the computer and out the window), I saw a wee brown bird buzzing up and down by the big fluffy tree/bush across the way. (I have no idea what most of the flora is out here, so, um, big fluffy tree/bush.) It was a few seconds before I realized I was looking at a hummingbird, because it hovered in midair the way no other domestic birds do that I'm aware of. It wasn't bright green and pink the way textbook hummingbirds are, it was brown and mottled, but it definitely had faster-than-light wings and a long thin beak.

Squeal! The only times I ever remember seeing hummingbirds were for fractions of a moment before they sped away, and I had to say "was that a hummingbird? Is that what they look like? Or was it just a really fast sparrow?" So seeing one was pretty cool for me.

I went right out and bought a hummingbird feeder, an antiquey red glass bottle screwed into a tray with flower-shaped holes, along with some packets of food that you mix into water. (Yeah, I know it's essentially sugar in a packet, but it wasn't expensive and I don't want to fuck up a homemade recipe and hurt the birds.) I hung it on the balcony and watched obsessively for about half a day. Nothing happened. I hung it a little further out, worried, thought about buying flowers to attract them...and then I saw a little brown thing come up to the balcony, look intently at the red bottle, and beeline away. "Looklooklook!" I shrieked at Matt (who was peaceably playing Heroes of Might & Magic), far too late for him to see anything.

He asked me what I liked so much about hummingbirds, anyway. Nothing, I told him, I had just rarely seen them. Later I realized that was mostly the reason, but there's something else, too. Something that has to do with me not being able to grow any sort of plants to save my life, and having such pale skin that I burn like a forest fire even under SPF, and being seriously allergic to bugs, but desperately wanting to be out-of-doors as much as possible, anyway. Something appealing beyond words about the idea that I could hang up a feeder and tiny, miraculous birds really would show up and hang out on my balcony.

And they have. Yesterday I worked most of the day, looking to the left 847 times to see if there were any birds at the feeder, and I had customers on and off all day long. They drank my sugar water. A couple times they even sat on the edge of the feeder and folded their wings while they sipped. I haven't tried to get pictures of any of them, because they mostly drink from the flower-hole that's farthest from me and I can only see their edges around the bottle. But it's still so damn cool.

Feeder, hummingbird-free at the moment, unfortunately
I could connect this to how awesome Los Angeles is, how much I'm enjoying it here, but there are hummingbirds in many, many places in this country. What it really connects to is the joys of this particular apartment - finding happiness in things like this balcony, which is small and directly faces my neighbors' balcony across the way, which theoretically means they can watch me at my desk all day long, but which has brought me so many little mental rainbows with its morning sunshine and afternoon hummingbirds. The surprising amount of storage space here, presently full of disorganized life-stuff which I will eventually put to order. The teeny-tiny kitchen, which is kind of like adventuring in a houseboat. The seriously cool space-saving dining room table and chairs I bought at Ikea, despite the moving guy's well-intentioned comments amounting to the conclusion that our stuff is cheap and shitty. And my new address stamp, which has a swirly bird on it.

Life is good.

PS: I am falling far behind on correspondence, including thank-you notes and e-mails. Please forgive me if you're waiting for something from me.


Denise said...

I'm so glad that you're liking it out there! It's good to find joy in change, because it can also be so stressful. I hope that things continue this way for you!!

Anonymous said...

Good to hear y'all are gettin' sitchyated in your new digs.

Katharine Coldiron said...

Thanks, y'all. Kamper, there is other music besides Wilco. ;D