My sister has a bird, a parrot, that was rescued from some old dude who wasn't really able to take care of it. Otis is an absolute beauty and quite gentlemanly in many ways. He has a collection of phrases from his previous owner, and sometimes we talk to him in that voice, as if it were his voice, Otis's, though of course we don't know what that would sound like. Otis is a bird, with a bird-sized brain, but because he can talk, it sometimes seems like he's really quite smart, smart enough to mess with you.
Like sometimes he makes the sound of the dishwasher being done when it hasn't even completed a cycle, and I come running to be a good houseguest for nothing; I think he likes the scurrying. And sometimes he uses my sister's or brother-in-law's voices to call out "hello" as though they have just come home and I get all happy because that means it's cocktail time except Otis doesn't drink and they won't be home for two more hours. Pavlov's parrot or something, this one.
Or like I sit down to work and Otis asks me "Whatcha doing? Whatcha doing?!" and I tell him I am working. And he asks and I answer until it seems existential, until I am almost crying about it, because I am sitting here in beautiful sunny California, there is a swingset in the backyard, there are rivers to raft in, and I am... well, Otis, I am working. Which is the right thing to do, but if you say it enough it can sound wrong.
So I am working. I am also taking some time for myself: I have been wine tasting; I have driven over the border into Nevada to win $60 on a $1 slot machine and walked away; I have eaten until all I can fit in are cotton pants with an elastic waist, and then I have heaved a giant sigh of relief and eaten more. I have been complimented on my "look" by a stranger and have in parallel noted with pleasure my increasing invisibility in the patriarchy. I have celebrated birthdays and anniversaries. I have mourned the deaths of 49 people I did not know and one who I did. I have visited some friends and will visit more. I have laughed until I cried, which is usual for me, and cried until I laughed, which is new and interesting. I have debated whether love makes us blind (I believe it does not). I have been flooded with memories of previous times I was here, previous longings and disappointments and delights.
I have not told Otis everything I am doing. I probably shouldn't tell you, either.