My mother used to tell me stories about the pet bird she had as a child. A beautiful cockatoo brought home one day by her father. The bird's exotic poise looked out of place in their dull city apartment. They named it Phineas Q and put his cramped cage by the window. On days when snow white as his feathers danced delicately down past the glass to the ground, Phineas would say “Shut the door, it’s freezing out!” and crow with glee when my grandmother tried to shush his rambunctious jabbering. It delighted my mother and her siblings to have such a unique pet that they never wanted to let him out of that cold metal cage.
But on days when the air was warm enough to leave the window open and blue jays and cardinals dipped and glided effortlessly through the sapphire sky like colorful kites, Phineas Q would weep. He would mimic the sobs and whimpers that he overheard from the neighborhood when a child scraped their knee riding a bike or a lonely housewife would talk loudly on the phone, but the pain was all his own. His mournful crows voiced his anguish for being locked away all alone in the shadows instead of spreading his dazzling silvery feathers under the golden sun with other birds like him.
Sometimes I think about Poor Phineas Q and my heart breaks for him. I wish he could have felt the cool wind underneath his wings, to know what freedom feels like. He had the birdcage weighing him down like having weights shackled to his ankles. I have these shackles too in some ways. This town feels like a birdcage, trapping me in when I know that here is not where I belong. Responsibilities, labels, expectations, these all drag me down, not letting me be who i truly want to be, myself. But my mind are my wings, and Phineas had hope that his wings would take him somewhere far, far away, so I have hope that my mind will do the same. Just like me, Phineas craved adventure and power and opportunities to explore and most of all, freedom.