Strange Birds with Barefeet

I won the lottery: given a fine birth in the USA. Never wanting food or shelter. Happy and content in a nuclear family. Parents still married. College Degree, nice GPA.

And yet, I wasn’t packaged at the factory, not taped neatly along the edges of a fine, uniform recycled paper using cardboard box. Sometimes I wonder what would I be if I were inside the factory box? A Phonograph? A Scientific Calculator? No, when you opened the box, I’d probably dart out as scary night flying bat. The kind that looks like it could suck your blood, but that is really much more interested in eating gnats and insanely thankful that you let out of that damn paper prison.

So I wonder why the teenagers giggle at me when I run by. Then I realize it might be the bare feet plodding the pavement, the tattoos on my legs bobbing up and down, the long hair trailing in the wind, or the ragged shirt and shorts flapping like tattered battle flagsĀ as they have for years. I have this sense that cloths should literally fall off you or smell so bad that your wife complains before they should be discarded. Maybe there’s some self loathing in that. I suspect there is an element of self-hate in it.

I like to pretend that the sneer and chuckle of the blue-haired, nose ringed girl doesn’t phase me. That the warm, rough road beneath my feet immunizes me against it. But a small shard of it does pierce me. It’s that tingle in your chest the night of the play, right before you take the stage, but it hurts a little. You know it won’t kill you. But it does nag at you, just a little. You realize that if you really let it, it can infect. It can fester up in your soul and start the Rot. I don’t want a rotten soul, so I let the comment miss. I become like the wind. The insult fades.

I remember that I won the lottery. That I am well, healthy, running without shoes outside in the beautiful Oregon sun. Instead of letting the sharp words cut me, I let them cut open uniform recycled paper using cardboard box. And this time, I don’t fly out as bat, but as an eagle with a Longfeather.

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