Saturday, February 10, 2007

farewell old friend

Our 16-year old cockatiel Rainbo passed peacefully, this afternoon. He'd been increasingly geriatric, and we'd seen the end coming about a month ago, as he visited the vet, and the vet diagnosed good health but inevitable aging, and advised us to "keep him warm" and "make him comfortable; he's just an old man." We'd had him all the years of his life, well from the time he was about 10 weeks old, anyway. Acquired as a companion for our other bird Gemini, he went on to become my husband's beloved buddy, to father 3 clutches of babies with Gem, and to cross the country twice and the Pacific once. In the words of a friend, he was a bird with a profound lust for life. He outlived 2 other cockatiels, Gemini and the above-pictured whitefaced Buffy, and had no caution or fear of dogs. Cricket's arrival into the household last year meant a curtailment of his freedom, which considerably affected the quality of his life, I think.

I buried him in our garden, under the Surinam Cherry tree, by our outside altar. Sad, I am, but at peace, too, as he lived a long, rich, full life.

Where have I been? Nursing a cold, burying myself in Martin Cruz Smith's latest Arkady Renko novel, working ferociously, dog training, providing bird hospice, knitting a blue sock for Project Spectrum,seeing movies and generally living pretty well. With the new year, and the new moon, and Imbolc, I experienced a little shift in how I feel about being here. It's hard to explain, but I'll try. For months, really since last winter, I had been operating with this feeling just below the surface (and often not disguised at all) of just marking time here, until we moved back to the mainland. Now I moved here 18 months ago, knowing (as I knew about my Virginia life) that this would probably not be a permanent residence for me, but rather, a place we'd live for 5-6 years. In VA, I hurled myself into that place and life, and became rooted, absorbed, enthralled. Many factors contributed to that situation, and how it worked for me there. Hawaii has been a difficult adjustment for me, and part of me has fought it, stubbornly seeing it as my temporary way station til I got back to someplace with 4 distinct seasons, better yarn stores, a friendlier dog culture, yadayadayada. But with my sister's departure in early January, I started to see things a little differently. I made a resolution to more consciously live "in my life" here, rather than to be always wishing and pining for somewhere else. It IS where I live, now, after all, and while I may miss and love other places, Oahu has to be home for me now. No sooner than I had made this decision to commit to my life here, than it was tested a few weeks ago. At Mocha Java, as I sat with the Aloha Knitters, a drunken, irate touristy-kine guy came in, looking for a club called Rumors. When informed that it wasn't at Ward Center, he griped loudly that he'd just wasted a $15 taxi fare, and called Hawaii a "fuckin' third-world country." Immediately, I felt a rush of defensiveness, how dare he call OUR island a third-world country?! HA! How many times have I uttered that same phrase? Now truth be told, I have lived and traveled in the third world, and I don't like to loosely use that phrase, really, it's usually used in a pejorative, sweepingly dismissive and generalistic way, but I'm afraid that sometimes, in dealing with certain arcanely bureaucratic and colonial holdover institutions here, the slipper fits a little too well to be called much else.

It was the momentary sense of protectiveness, the offended pride, that made me feel weirdly as if, for a moment, I belonged.

So I've tried to taste the rainbow a little more deliberately. To go to the beach more often. To enjoy our low-sixties nights and call them "cold". To admire the stars I never saw in too-urban Arlington and count myself lucky to live here. Paradise? Absolutely not. But a nice place to be, nevertheless.


Stephanie said...

I'm sorry to hear of Rainbo's passing, but glad to hear that you're making an effort to "taste the rainbow a little more deliberately." I've been trying to do more of that, myself. Cheers!

Barb said...

I'm sorry to hear about Rainbow. He had a grand life and traveled more then many people I know.
I like your phrase "taste the rainbow". It really doesn't matter where you live, it's more a lifestyle.

Opal said...

I'm sorry to hear about Rainbow too. What a wonderful like he had with you! I too like your phrase "taste the rainbow" and I think I need to start doing that a little more deliberately myself as well.

Reya Mellicker said...

From what a friend of mine tells me, it was paradise until they paved it and put up parking lots. She grew up in Hawai'i before Oahu had an airport. Can you imagine?

It would be very hard for me to adjust to island living - I salute you for pursuing that adjustment in such a realistic and positive way.

What a beautiful post! I'm so sorry to hear of your loss, and yes it sounds like he did have a profound lust for life. May he rest in peace!

Anonymous said...

I am so so sorry to hear of your dear little old man passing. Cockies are such dear creatures. They just seem to want to soak up all the love and petting you can possibly give them.
How is the other tiel? Everything ok?
xo me

Moon said...

Im not anonymous! Its me Moon!