Time to Leave the Nest

I have had the fortune of ending my sophomore year having accomplished most of the goals I set out to accomplish at the beginning. I didn’t get fired, I kept my 4.0 all year (although I haven’t seen my finals grades yet—Eek!), I was fortunate enough to fill next year’s position as a Campus Correspondent, and I started my own French Club. Academically, I am fulfilled and happy. It was everything I could have wanted. None of these things, however, are my favorite memory of my sophomore year.

My favorite memory started in January. I moved back into my dorm, on the second floor. My window overlooks a big honey locust tree, and when I was sitting at my desk doing the semester’s first homework I noticed a nest. Directly in front of my little home was another, and the pigeon who lived there watched me with its red rimmed eye. It cooed in the morning and reminded me of my childhood bedroom. I slept with the windows open just to hear her gentle song. I nicknamed her Perry, and she had two babies to feed whatever she could forage. I did some research on pigeons, and found out that they are the same exact birds as doves, just grey.

Perry was my quiet companion: she watched my room and I watched her nest. I became comforted by waking up and seeing her while I did my makeup at my desk. I felt a little like Snow White getting dressed while a bird sang to me (at least it felt like it was just for me). It stayed like this for a while.

Like all good things, it had to come to an end. One day in late March, I noticed Perry was nowhere to be seen. Her chicks had flown away, and she was no longer returning to her perch. My avian friend had moved on, and I had to as well. I closed the window to sleep, and no longer left old bread crusts underneath her tree. Her nest sat in front of my window, empty and decaying. I did not notice it as much after a while, but periodically I would crack my windows and grow disappointed when I did not hear a soft cooing.

I lost a lot of myself this school year. I lost my childlike trust in people, my belief in justice and karma, and my sense of self for a few months. I became dependent on others to make me happy, and I felt like I was broken by myself. I went through all of the stages of grief three times over, and realized that growing out of my old self was painful and inexplicably alienating from all of the people I care about most. I grew out of my nest, just like Perry and her chicks. My nest was not physical, but rather a mental and emotional place I had been resting in for too long.

I complained to my best friend I felt like I hadn’t changed mentally since I was seventeen, and I didn’t feel twenty. She told me that sometimes you don’t know you are changing when you are in the process, and one day you will wake up to a new you. The next morning, I looked out my window to see a new nest, right next to where Perry’s was deteriorating. It was slightly bigger, and the bird sitting in it was a huge red-breasted robin. It was arguably more beautiful than my previous pigeon, Perry. It had beautiful red feathers covering its chest, and its wings were white and dark brown. It had a song that was less like a lullaby and more joyful. I call it Roy

Roy reminds me to accept change. I have always hated change; I threw a fit when my mom painted our kitchen white after many years of it being carrot orange. I hate moving out after the summer, even though I miss my family every day I am at campus. On the other hand, I hate moving back in every August. Life is constantly changing, and I feel like I can’t win one way or the other. Every morning I see Roy’s nest now, I am reminded that change can be beautiful.