The Brighter Writer


The Birdhouse

When I was pregnant I moved to Long Beach from San Clemente to be closer to my mom when the baby was born. I lived off 2nd and Cherry in a house the owners had turned into apartments. My place was very Alice-ish, which is why I chose it right away. Tiny cupboards everywhere and small fancy doors and cute round little windows. It had a very English feel. There was even a garden in the middle where this old, long white haired, witch lady sat and chain smoked her cigarettes. She sounded like the twin sisters from the Simpsons. I called her Smoker Lady. She was very sweet, and very nosey, and very willing to do whatever it took to get me to never move away from her. She grew an attachment which was strong and quick. She sat out front in the garden on her plastic chair with her dog Bailey surrounded by hundreds of glass fairies she had strategically placed to keep evil spirits away. She chain smoked her menthol cigarettes waiting for me to come out with my tea in the mornings and chat. Which I did. Every morning. 9 months pregnant with my "Beer Me" t-shirt, my bathrobe, and my red bulldog pajama pants.

We were buddies.

She would tell me all about her daughter, and her ex husbands, and how she loved Jesus and witchcraft at the same time and she would apologize for the smoking as she lit another cigarette, and we would just sit. All day. She was convinced I was a witch in hiding and that I just hadn't come out of the closet yet. She was also on a lot of heavy drugs.

Her house was decorated just as I imagined Stevie Nicks' would be. Lots of draperies and candles and big windows and jewelry boxes and silk scarves and expensive looking couches with lots of tiny embellishments on them. I'm not sure why we were such good friends, but it was comforting to me that she was such a meddler. It was nice to know she kept an eye on the neighborhood 24/7.

After Kalynn was born and it was time for me to move back down to Orange County, she was truly heartbroken. We had grown very fond of each other and I think she didn't have very many people who really cared for her. She was old, she was lonely, and even though she knew it was coming, she took it hard when I left.

Over the year I lived there, I had mentioned over and over how much I adored this particular birdhouse which sat in the corner of the garden and was really in bad shape. It was one of her favorites too. I remember she always had a stick of lit incense hanging off the top...

The day I moved out she wasn't home. I went upstairs to say goodbye and she was nowhere to be found. I'm not sure if she planned it that way or not, but I never had the chance to say goodbye to her. She did, however, leave the birdcage on my front porch with a little note that said "for you." It made me cry. I never went back to see her. The way she took care of herself and the health problems that she had, didn't give me a lot of hope that she would be sticking around for a lengthy period of time on this Earth. I never wanted to know for sure.

The birdcage has been sitting in my front yard rotting for over 2 years until last week when I got a fire under my ass to bring it back to life again.