A few months ago I mentioned that my friend, Brooke Shaden, came to my house to shoot my portrait. We climbed down into the nearby swamp and I dressed up in a bunch of thrift store clothes that wouldn’t even zip up over my chest and I only fell into the swamp twice. And we climbed trees and baffled hikers and laughed, and Victor and Hailey and Maile were there to help and it was amazing.
It was especially wonderful because I’ve been putting this photo session off for over a year because my anxiety disorder makes me continually postpone trips since I hate to travel and finally Brooke just said, “You’re weird. I’m coming to you.” I’m paraphrasing. She said it much nicer. But she understood.
She wandered through my house before the shoot and I had to explain my propensity for collecting the empty bird cages that hang all over my house. They’re old and battered, but beautiful and unique, and I explained that whenever I get too overwhelmed I picture myself tucked behind those same bars…safe from worry and people and the terror of real life. In some ways my house has become my own little cage…one that I love, but one that I retreat to perhaps more than a “normal” person might say is healthy. I told Brooke that I feel bad about turning down so many meetings and trips and opportunities that some people would kill for but that I know that sometimes saying “no” is the only way to protect myself from the exhaustion that comes afterward. But I still push myself out of my cage when I can. Sometimes it’s just a few steps. Sometimes I fly. Sometimes I fall. Mostly I sit inside and quietly watch, but that gives me the opportunity to view and study human nature in a way few get to observe. It gives me insight and it helps me be a better writer and (I hope) a better person.
And then Brooke looked at my favorite birdcage thoughtfully and nodded to herself and began taking it apart to drag it into the swamp with us because she had a vision. I didn’t entirely know what she was doing, but I went with it.
And today Brooke sent me my portrait.
It’s me, as the Blue (in every sense of the word) Bird of Happiness.
I love it.
Sometimes cages can be surprisingly freeing.
PS. I just looked up “bluebird behavior” and turns out that they’re usually timid, gentle and unaggressive, unless you cross them and then they will cut you. It’s sort of scary just how accurate that is.
PPS. In the morning I’m going to see the surgeon about removing that Who in my stomach. Wish me luck.
UPDATED: Surgery will be Friday. Robots will be involved. More later…