When I was ten, I saved-oh- about a thousand weeks worth of my allowance until I had enough to buy the most exotic pet I could imagine: a parakeet. What prompted me to aspire to such great lengths, I’m not sure, although I can only conclude it was due to my parents tyrannical ruling that I would never be allowed to keep an orca whale in our backyard pool. Thus, I settled for my second option.
Whatever the case, the day I came home with the newly dubbed “Sparkie” I was the happiest ten-year-old on the planet.
I set his cage up on the bookshelf in my bedroom, fetched him some water and birdseed and spent the next few hours watching him hop and chirp his way around the cage. I fell asleep that night dreaming of the adventures I would have with my talking parakeet (for I would teach him, you see).
Of course, I was ten years old, and as is the case with males of such an age, my commitment levels to anything were dismal. The next day, I took him out of his cage and spent the afternoon trying to teach him how to land on my finger, or say a catchy phrase. But my efforts were met with little reward. Most of the time was spent trying to keep Sparkie from flying to some far off corner of my room and the rest attempting to retrieve him from said corners while he savagely bit at my hand with his small beak. At the end of it, I concluded that: a) Sparkie would never learn to talk b) parakeets, though small and innocent in appearance, could inflict damage on a human appendage and c) teaching my kid brother how to stick a fork in an electric outlet produced much greater results in much less time, so I returned Sparkie to his cage and set off to indulge in the latter.
For the next few months, I faithfully changed Sparkie’s water and provided him with food, but spent minimal amounts of time attempting to do anything other than get my hand out of his cage with all fingers intact. I was fine doing this because, I’ll just be honest here, I didn’t expect Sparkie to live much longer. Up to that time, the extent of my experience as a pet owner had consisted of five-cent goldfish, which were usually dead and flushed down the toilet before I had a chance to name them. When my interest in Sparkie died, I was under the natural, somewhat grotesque, assumption that he would too.
What I didn’t know is that the average life span of a parakeet is somewhere between 8-10 years. In retrospect, I think it would have been, shall we say, decent of the lady working at the pet shop to inform the chubby pipsqueak at the check-out counter that after he got braces and earned the nickname “fence-face”, after he tried out for the football team and found himself repeatedly indented six feet into the ground by a large senior nicknamed “Thor”, after he’d try to kiss a girl for the first time only to find, at the last second, half the school was watching with a camera, after buying his first car and having it break down in the middle of one of two dates he had all of high school (this is all totally theoretical, mind you), after starting his first job, even after getting accepted into college… the stupid bird he bought when he was ten would still be under his care. Yes, that would have been very decent of her, indeed.
Long story short, she didn’t. So I kept taking care of Sparkie and yet neglected any sort of emotional attachment. This resulted in Sparkie slowly being transformed into a demonic creature whose only joy in life was viciously attacking the hand of his owner whenever he summoned the courage to venture into the cage. It was my fault, but Sparkie turned into a monster and that monster haunted me. Eventually, Sparkie did pass away. An occasion I marked with the type of glee reserved for birthday parties and world war victory days. That being said, I was sure I had learned my lesson.
Then I started a blog.
I graduated over a year ago with a degree in English Writing and Waiting Tables. Upon graduation, I had the wonderfully stupid idea of starting a blog. With an enthusiasm I hadn’t felt in years, I launched this virtual publication for the entire world to see. Full of passion and rigor, I dedicated hours to posting my thoughts, experiences and adventures for the enjoyment of my closest family, loyal friends and people across the globe who were otherwise bored out of their minds. It was fantastic and I entertained dreams of the blog developing into a grand publication discussed by folks at water coolers and cocktail parties.
You may be able to guess what happened. A year passed and my enthusiasm dwindled. I learned that blogs don’t have an expiration date and I started to see blogging as a chore, a tiresome, grueling task no where near as rewarding as watching my brother stick a fork in the electrical outlet. As time grew on, my posts became less and less frequent and I neglected it the same way I once neglected Sparkie. Readership dropped (not that it was ever high, mind you)and feedback was dismal. Some nights I’d have dreams that my computer had come alive and was smacking me over the head with a the keyboard amidst cries of “play with me! Play with me!”. Suffice to say, the blog-that-could-have-been was haunting me. Still I figured that if I ignored it long enough, the blog would go away.
Just like Sparkie.
But I’ve decided that I must do right before Sparkie and before this blog. Because, quiet honestly, I feel bad for turning that innocent parakeet into a demonic terror. I regret the neglect and complete irresponsibility that led to his demise. While I cannot make right what happened to Sparkie, I can keep the same thing from happening to this blog. So I’m starting over: starting afresh.
A couple of weeks ago, I left my home in Maine and moved to Massachusetts where I just began work on my Masters of Divinity.What prompted me to return to school for another few years of intellectual butt whooping is hard to say, though if you stick with me long enough I shall indeed try. All I know is I brought this blog with me, and I won’t let it die.
Unless my parents let me get that whale, of course. Or situation arises in which I can just watch my brother electrocute himself.