Psst! Want a line on the next hot commodity? Lean in close and I’ll tell you.
No, I haven’t lost my mind. Well, not in that regard, anyway.
For some time, Heather and I had marked out Friday on our mental calendars as “Z-Day,” the day when we would finally restore a zebra finch or two to the house. It had been almost a year since our tiny D2 had flown this world, and we needed some energetic beeping in the house again. Apparently, so did our cockatiel Chompy, who had been getting excited ever since seeing the new cage go up.
There was only one catch.
“What do you mean, you don’t have any zebra finches?”
That was the theme of a long Friday afternoon and evening. Store after store after store in a 75-mile radius gave the same answer: Sorry, nothing now, try back in a couple of weeks. (Well, except for the one that said “Sorry, we just sold our last two this morning.” Sigh.)
If you want to blame COVID-19 … well, you might be right. This is a world where many things are slowed down by precautions and quarantines, and I suppose it’s not surprising that live birds aren’t an exception.
Still, while it may be reasonable, it’s still hard.
That’s sort of the theme for this stage of pandemic life in general, isn’t it?
You know what I mean. We can all feel “normal” getting closer. Most of us by now know someone who’s gotten the vaccine, or even several someones. There’s been hints of hope in the air, signs that maybe the drawbridge can start to open this year, that by fall or winter we’ll have regained more pieces of the life we used to know.
But “close” isn’t the same as “here.”
And reminders of the gap between the two still abound.
Thinking about it, grade school was great training for this. You spent a lot of time doing things that were necessary, whether you really wanted to or not. And the closer you got to summer vacation, the more interminable those last few structured days and hours felt. To an anxious third-grader, the last week before summer is a lot like the last 20 miles of a long car ride: “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”
Then and now, the answer’s obvious. It’s not the answer we want, but it’s obvious all the same.
And we really don’t want to be kept into summer school this time.
And so we go on. Teased every so often by the promise of what’s ahead, only to run up against one more reminder of where we still are.
But time will pass. Things will change. Finches will come, along with many other things.
We’ll get there.
Oh, it won’t be the same world. It never truly is from day to day, even without a sudden pandemic muddling things up. Just as with any other crisis in our history, there’ll be lessons we learn, behaviors we change, newfound strengths or scars that we carry with us. “Normal” is a moving target, one that we redefine with each generation.
But more normal than now? Less isolated, less wary, more “a part of” than “apart from?”
Yes, I believe that. Absolutely. We’ve got a lot of rebuilding to do, but we’ll get there. And when we do, we’ll have a new appreciation for the precious things in life. Like togetherness. Hugs. Mobility.
And, of course, zebra finches.
You don’t get much more valuable than that.