No, actually, there is no snowstorm.
Or even a green parrot.
Though there once was a cockatoo that I bird-sat for a friend who was off on holiday to New Zealand. For quite a number of weeks.
I, myself, had just returned from India and the dip that I felt my body was recovering from turned out not to be just a dip, but a major plummet.
An abyss that seemed to welcome my downward spiral with altogether too much enthusiasm.
So I sat with the screeching bird, having no real idea on how to reassure it that its human was just away, was coming home again, and that I would, in her place, keep the cage tidy and the food and water dishes full.
It seemed to not care at all that I was giving it all the attention that I dared to. Actually connecting with the bird personally was not something I would accomplish. Its constantly moving beak and tongue. Its constant shrieking.
It was a creature from another world, who found this new world totally unacceptable.
Much like myself.
The bird and I: mirrors of each other.
Except I never made a sound about my captivity in the world in which I found myself.
So I watched the bird, waited for my body restore itself. Become healthy once again.
But, even as I passed through the experience of the white, exotic bird, my body became that which was crying out, grasping at the world’s edge, hoping to find a grip once more.
The stages of the illness had a series of names:
(2) Insanity, of the female persuasion
(3) A rare and tropical disease
(4) Hepatitis non-A, non-B
(5) Hepatitis C
You brought it home from India; all sorts of people are bringing it home from India and Africa these days; women, especially, first-world women who treat themselves like third-world women; do you only eat soybeans and cauliflower?
Did it matter how I answered?
At one point, I was advised to turn myself over to an experimental lab that dealt with the hopeless and the helpless.
Julia as guinea pig.
I declined the suggestion.
Instead I sat. I understood. I acted. I prayed. I survived.
It was the most shocking and strangely amusing incident of my life: having been admitted to the hospital to die, waking to find my doctor, my liver specialist whose office walls were covered from floor to ceiling with certificates reassuring me that he was The Liver Specialist Of The World screaming at the top of his lungs at me.
I was not dead, you see. I turned over. I sat up in the bed. My open eyes were staring at him.
“WHAT DID YOU DO?” Repeated over and over and over again.
I knew that saying, I prayed, would bring only more spittle and venom. So I sat silently.
I had failed him. He could now not have my liver to study.
My life: a disappointment to all those around me. No matter the accomplishment.
But now I think of the list of names: from hypochondria to death sentence that I defied, and it makes me think of how I have viewed my own life. How I have characterized my own being. Not a bird with the same squawk every day.
But different labels, naming the different divisions.
Grace (I was too young to react to what was happening); defect (born with a wrong make-up for a human); fury (when head and body came together to face it all); transformer.
Transformer: pieced together, but whose make-up astounded even me.
And after all these years, after all this pushing me away and pulling me closer, I come to stand and look into my mirror. And what I see is that I am not formed like anyone else.
Which, in those snappy insights-of-the-moment statements that really, in the end, mean nothing, is what is said of all of us. Not one of us is like anyone else.
Snowflakes. Yeah, that’s it. Snowflakes.
Except no one has yet answered to my satisfaction, how does anyone really know that no two snowflakes are alike? To know that would mean someone would have had to study each and every snowflake that has ever fallen to the Earth.
But in my giftedness, I have poked and probed. Yes, there are people who burst here and there. But they don’t burst the way I do. They don’t fold in and become something new, something restructured, and then stretch out and do.
But in some ways I am like a vacuum cleaner. I can only do what I do when I am plugged in. Connected. And, for me, that connection is hard to find. Almost impossible, in fact. When it happens, though, I want it to stop. I want to return to a static state. A vacuum cleaner, stored against the wall. Waiting for action.
I like that state the best: waiting. Because it means that I don’t have to face myself. My abilities. My connectedness with the world around me.
Julia as thunder. Julia as lightning.
And yet it’s funny. After all these years of spiraling around about my own self, plucking, designing, chiding, defining, in a way it all matters not at all.
In the end, I find that I am, essentially, just a sigh.
One long heartfelt sigh.
A cloud-like dream.
An open heart.
So perhaps I’ll be the green parrot. And I’ll find a way to fly out into the snowstorm. And watch as the snow melts on my feathers.
I’ll find a tree hollow and watch the dance and be warm.
And I’ll sigh.