There’s a baby bird nest in my stove vent. They’re quiet at night and rambunctious first thing in the morning when I make my coffee. When I sneak into the kitchen at night for a piece of chocolate I half expect them to wake up and chirp at me for doing so but it stays quiet. I tiptoe just in case.
I’ve gotten used to them and their patterns and I quite like them, although I’ve never seen them. I tried to catch a glimpse by pressing my face against my bedroom window screen to see if I could get a peak but my neighbours came home and it was an awkward exchange. Our houses in Toronto are only 2 feet apart.
We have a wholly auditory relationship, me and the birds, and the only negative thus far has been my inability to turn on my stove fan. But I’ve made do by bringing in a desk fan and fanning the steam from my kettle into my own face instead of into their nest. I’m a good person.
When I was in grade 5 I met a kid in foster care. He was one of the neatest, sweetest people I’d ever met. His foster home was on the way to my house so we’d walk to Egerton Street, say goodbye, and I’d turn left while he kept on. As the school year went on, one afternoon he took my hand and we walked in silence until my turnoff. Before the year end he kissed me on the cheek. That summer I didn’t see him and he didn’t come back the next year. He was trouble with the teachers but I liked him. He was a really good person when we were together.
As a kid in grade 5, I soaked up my surroundings. I noticed how he responded to authority and how differently he responded to me. I wrote in my journal that I wanted to be there for all the kids in the world who had no one to listen to them, and I vowed to myself that I would, in some way, shape, or form, for my entire life. This would be one of my life goals, maybe even my first tangible one. I tried to comprehend how my mom and I could live in this giant home and not share it; how I could struggle with liking my father and not feel grateful that I have one in the first place. I never thought I’d want to ever birth a child because this motivation to support all the lost, lonely kids was so strong in me.
But here I sit 20 years later contemplating the interest in me to grow a human and hanging my head as my mom says, “I told you so. I told you you’d change your mind.”
In university I worked at a hotel as a housekeeper. Every morning at 8:30 I’d turn on TLC while I changed the bed sheets and dusted the room. A Baby Story was on. For that half hour it was like my own secret therapeutic session. That show would make me cry so many tears of joy, I couldn’t explain it. The human body has always terrified and amazed me, so much so that I avoided science in high school because I was scared of what I’d learn. We can GROW HUMANS. I could GROW… a HUMAN. That is such a weird and awesome thought. My friend and co-worker Joanne caught me crying once and I tried to explain myself: “It’s just so… neat… and gross.”
“It’s a blessing and a curse!” she laughed, having had a child herself. She’s always so humourously pessimistic.
I don’t even know if my body can host a tiny human (God knows I’ve spent my entire life this far trying to prevent it), nor if my partner can give me this gift. But I’m not writing because of that. I’m writing because of a shift I’ve been feeling lately, one that I’ve spent my entire life telling myself I didn’t want, and it confuses me!
My mom has spent countless hours telling me she’d love a grandchild. It’s incessant and irritating and it was always the perfect platform for telling her she’ll get a 9 year old grandchild on the day I adopt them. I am really stubborn, and it hasn’t failed me yet. Adoption is still very much my plan, or wish, and I’m extremely grateful to share this wish with a partner who fully accepts it. I also never thought I’d meet someone I’d like to marry. Never thought I’d be engaged, which I am now. Never thought I’d want to own a home (note: variable meanings to the word home) with someone. Never thought I’d feel so over the moon with niblings and best friend’s babies. Never thought I’d consider growing a human. Also never thought I’d like olives, but I’m warming up to them.
I think that all these “never thoughts” are incredible insights into a lifetime of thinking. They are indications of a shift in platitudes and they allow a person to practice acceptance and gratitude; they allow us to explore. They allow us to look at all the forks in the road and decide which ones (yes ones) we’d like to pursue. And for the first time, these never thoughts are allowing me to consciously prepare for future never thoughts. Ones like, “Will I eventually like hot sauce? Will I ever love a dog the way I love my cats (because all those talking animal movies make dogs seem so awesome…)? Will I ever get my eyeliner tattooed on my eyes (to save time and money, obviously)?”
I never thought I’d even consider growing a human. In all honestly, I panicked at first. This messes with my life plan! is what I scribbled in my journal, half joking… But I kept scribbling and eventually told myself that it’s okay to change plans, to shift gears, to change your mind, direction, taste, perspective… It’s okay to like olives. It’s okay to want to grow a human. It doesn’t mean I can/will eat/buy olives regularly, but I’m open to it now.
To all my current and future never thoughts: I am grateful for you. You change the way my pizza tastes. And I’m perfectly alright with that.