Autumn can't stop thinking about the blue jay- earlier in the yard she nearly hit 2 birds with the door when letting our dog outside. One flew right away but the other was injured. She petted it with one finger then tried to coax it into her hand to get it to safety but the bird eventually hopped off.
It’d been raining for over an hour and a half when she told me the story. As soon as it stopped she went to go check on it. She put on gloves in case she has to hold the fragile bird in her hands again.
She wants to hold the fragile thing between her hands.
She is so delicate and sweet. The way her face filled with concern hours later. This weakened bird, some of its feathers missing, looking like it had maybe been bitten.
She wants to hold a fragile things in her hands and mend it, take care of it. Meanwhile I avoid fragile things because I know I will ruin it, break it beyond repair. The way I broke Autumn years ago and even now she is just beginning to grow back into softness with me.
Even though I was raised as a girl, I still never learned to be domestic. Home was just a place I slept; I never felt comfortable calling our house a true home. I was a sensitive child. I was a fragile thing. I learned to harden myself, observing my family’s penchant for burying things under and going forward. I learned to chisel my performance into something acceptable. It was always easier for me to take a punishment that was not mine than a compliment that was.
Autumn only tried to take care of me like she would with any wounded bird. But I lashed out mean and indifferent. I resented her softness as a trait she would need to discard.
“How was the bird?” I ask when she reenters the living room.
“I didn’t get to pick it up. I was worried I would hurt it. It was hard to get an idea of how bad it was actually wounded.”
If there is one person I definitely do not deserve but also definitely did need, it is my wife Autumn Tallulah Wolfe. For years I pushed away her attempts to love me as nothing but possible entrapment. Before her, I did not know a love that came without strings, without an unspoken but implied owing.
Something about my family’s love always felt performative. Acting the part. Having to drown parts of myself and look good from the outside.
My mother talks of my youngest brother’s failing grades, though he is decidedly smart and capable. Frequently she calls him lazy or expresses exasperated confusion. Ry’s decaying besmirches them, besmirches the facade they put up that everything is ok.
While me and my younger sister Meg dealt with our putrid household dynamics by overachieving and becoming smaller, and my other brother Kev held the quiet middle C’s, Ry is drowning and refuses to pretend otherwise. He won’t cater to the narrative. He is struggling and can’t paint a helpful smile over it.
I look at this and see progress. See someone brave enough to admit that maybe overworking yourself on shit you’re not interested in does no one a service. I see his depression shading his actions or rather lack of actions. It mirrors the way I am currently experiencing my depression today. I feel like a piece of shit but cannot get my muscles to move into action either.
I have hope for him. To not hide as I did. As Meg does. As Kev perhaps does. Ry of all people gives me hope that one day we’ll all be okay. He too is a wounded bird but he won’t metaphorically hop around on a broken foot, pretending all is well like I did. He won’t make it easy for those who want to ignore all this detritus. He still needs to mend but I feel that he will find shelter in a delicate pair of hands- even if they have to be his own hands.
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