Last week I learned I wasn’t doing so well in my classes this semester. Two weeks before that I learned I wouldn’t be visiting my family for reading week. I can’t remember the last time I looked outside my window, or went outside just for the sake of it.

I watch the birds walk around, occasionally hopping elsewhere to switch spots. They squawk at one another. Could they be giving orders? Could they be rehearsing for their great act?

I didn’t learn I wasn’t doing so well in my classes this semester. I knew all along. It’s not difficult to know when you’re not doing so good. I didn’t learn I wouldn’t be visiting my family for reading week. I never intended to.

The sky is white. It should be beautiful, heavenly even, but really it’s just awfully cloudy.

Of all the days I decide to leave the house, I choose the day the sun is MIA.

Maybe I should work harder. Study more, sleep less. Make time for a social life. I really want something to point to, to fix, that would make it go away.

A small blue opening forms. The sun’s peeking out at the birds.

The sun peeks out at me. Maybe I should call some friends, catch up with them. Ask Alex for a storytime of her latest adventures. Call my sister, see how she’s doing in highschool. Maybe give her some advice on college applications.

The blues got larger, and less blue. It’s more yellow. I wonder how the sky goes from blue to yellow without first turning green. Maybe she just knows green’s not her color.

Maybe I should go home before it gets dark. But it’s been a while since I last watched the sky turn blue to yellow, and yellow to orange to red to purple to blue again, but darker.

I’ll start working out. I’ll clean my whole house, make it feel like a fresh start. I’ll even take—

A mass of birds lift from their places in a graceful, almost rehearsed movement. They join their comrades in the sky. They move as one, swooshing down and then up again, and away.

Did they practice for that? Spend hours finding out who goes where and who leads the flight, squawking at one another to just stop being so slow?

They’re a dotted V against the marigold sky. And they keep going forward, away from my spot on the edge of the cliff, and I can imagine them flying as one, through marigold fields and poppy fields and fields you can’t identify because it’s just too dark.

Do you think they’re born with it? Gracefulness, knowing exactly where you belong?

They’ve got their destination at heart, like they’ll know it when they see it.

I don’t think they can be confused, or clumsy, or worried, or tense. They’re not human.


It has been a while since I last watched the birds take flight.

Where should I go next?

Photographer: Amy Jia