There is a robin who built her nest atop the light at our front door. Her chicks broke free of their eggs a couple of weeks ago. One day I came home and found one of them dead on the porch. It has been there for over a week now. I watched in fascination as the days went by. Its belly started to distend. Its eyes aren’t there anymore. Now it lies covered in flies which feast upon its decaying remains. The corpse’s siblings are growing into nice little birds. Their mom flies away each time I go in or come out the door. They lie there scared, but I say, “Hello birds.” Then I look down at their fallen sibling.

I have left it there. My life is so insulated, so sanitized, so stable. Death is nowhere around me. At most I see the slow death of struggling persons when I decide to go downtown. My belly distends, too, but from comfort. This chick reminds me of life’s fragility, that my bubble could burst at any moment, that death, whether slow or immediate, is inevitable. In an instant I could be paralyzed or die, leaving my family with nothing but questions.

Will I arise as a phoenix from the dirt? Or will my life continue in comfort, still decaying, along with a world that continues to rot around me?

Looking back on where I’ve been

It’s weird sometimes reading back on where you’ve been and wonder why you were there. I guess that’s easy when you’re in a different place. Sometimes empathy is hard, even with yourself. I read what I have blogged and wonder why I was the way I was. But then I remember the feelings. I didn’t feel sure of myself or my place. I felt unsure of how I fit in with my family, church, sexuality, and work, all huge sources of identity. That liminal space where nothing is truly defined allows one to ask questions of everything because the givens that were formerly given are no longer given.

It gives me space for grace, though, to extend to others in similar circumstances. If I have gone through things in which I didn’t have the answers, how would I want to be treated during such a time? If I wasn’t sure and someone else was overconfidently, I didn’t want to hear them; I doubted the very foundations of their surety. But I enjoy leaving my blogs up as is. I can say I was different then and still accept myself.

People change. It can be scary, because I want people to treat my current incarnation the same way as they had treated me insofar as they knew me before. Change is a risk. Sometimes others welcome the change. Sometimes, I find, one loses trust, even friendships. Sometimes others can’t handle the change, or at least their change in perception of you (you may have been constant all along, just not presenting yourself authentically). I could find it sad that it’s taken me 32 years to learn that, but I’m thankful that I know it now. I can use it in how I approach relationships. I can use it in helping my children learn the ropes of the world.

If you feel you need to change (or you already have, but you want your public presentation to match what you are in private), take stock of yourself. Make definitive plans, because change has effects that lie outside your control. It can affect your job, your romantic relationships, your family relationships, your friendships, your access to social resources. However, the other side, as difficult as it might seem when you’ve taken stock, is liberating. People know you for what you have presented, and then can know you in a new way that may differ from what they thought they knew of you. Identities are funny things. Sometimes I want others to remain stable so that I can explore new horizons, but that’s not fair to them. Life is sometimes an unstable mess and that’s what makes it an adventure.