Every now and then I hear her call from somewhere just outside my house. It’s a sort of unattractive honking sound, but to me it is beautiful, and vulnerable, and wild. She sounds her voice early in the morning at sunrise, and sometimes at dusk, when the sun is setting beautiful and neon through the trees that face her habitual perch. I imagine she ends her days weary, hollering to the heavens, wondering how she got here, and why she can’t find a mate in this godforsaken neighborhood. And while some may hear no discernable difference in her early morning cry, I am sure it becomes a song of gratitude for the new day, an earnest chant of renewal and hope. Whenever I hear her call the sound strikes me to the bone and I am flooded with a sweet sadness.
She is a solitary peahen, and has spent the past six months living among the jungle of parrots and crows that reside in the trees of my little So-Cal street. Each evening at dusk she startles passersby as she flutters from the sidewalk into the tree in front of my house, bunking down for the night, awaiting the light of a new day. The nearest peacocks are at least nine miles from here, and they don’t seem to be big on flying. So, she spends her days alone, meandering busy and quiet streets alike, proudly perching on neighbors’ roofs, snacking in my little veggie garden, among other adventures, to be sure.
Perhaps the discontent I imagine she laments is actually a projection of my own state of affairs at present. For me, life at 38 is oh-so-different than I had planned. I am single, with a womb that’s on the verge of closing its doors for business. And while I would love to build a life and family with the right man, I am on a no-compromise man-diet, and up ‘til now, this town hasn’t produced any greater possibilities for me than it has for my solitary peahen. I have a good (and safe) job doing something important, and I like it, but I do not love it.
There are plenty of reasons I find myself in this particular place on the brink of 2010, and none of them can be traced back to anyone but myself. But blaming myself doesn’t settle any better than blaming another. I like who I am, and I’ve lived quite fully, if not traditionally, over the years. I’ve had experiences I treasure, and both the good and the bad have contributed to the me I’m sitting with today.
So, this isn’t about regrets. And although I do have my moments of hollering to the heavens about things not turning out as I’d hoped, I’m finding myself pleasantly surprised by the fabric of my life these days. My youth was spent caught in a chaos of my own making, while I longingly imagined a more grounded sort of existence. It took the loss of all I thought I wanted to open my mind to the possibility of creating a simpler, more intentional life. And so I have. My weeks are filled with yoga, good friends and supportive family, numerous farmer’s markets, a garden to tend, spontaneous adventures, and a ridiculous amount of beautiful food. Some nights are filled with amazing meals and the laughter of friends, while others are quietly spent nestled in bed with a good book and two crazy cats.
So while this isn’t exactly the life I planned to be living at 38, I’m finding this PLAN B version surprising, and abundant, and more authentically satisfying than the fairytale I had imagined at the age of 25. I may shake my fists at the gods now and then, but I will continue to live hopeful about what the new day may bring. In the meantime, I am pursuing a full and abundant life of my own making. From now on, when I hear that haunting call from somewhere outside my house, it will be a reminder to me that I too am beautiful, and vulnerable and wild. And it seems, even I can find contentment in the simplest and most solitary of places.