Thursday, March 11, 2004

Every summer a mockingbird builds its nest in the tall shrubbery next to my father's garage. It hates the fact that my family has callously placed their home so close to its nest, although if we were going to talk specifics with the bird, the house was there first. The bird's preferred method of expressing its displeasure is by dive bombing the first person to exit the walkway.
The only one it ever hits is my brother Ryan.
For some reason, the mockingbird really dislikes my brother. Whenever he leaves the house it swoops down towards his head, often making contact with the flesh above his right ear. The net result of this is that by the end of summer Ryan launches himself out the front door in the hopes of making it past before the bird spots him. He also, by the end of summer, has a large nasty bird beak wound on the side of his head.
We never understood why the bird has chosen Ryan to hate. He's not the loudest of my two brothers, not the fastest or the slowest of the family, not the tallest or the shortest. He is the middle ground, and the mockingbird has begun a campaign on his mediocrity. We can't, of course, be sure that it's always the same mockingbird. After six or seven years, it's probably unlikely. So perhaps it is mockingbirds in general that do not like my little brother.

One day a few years ago Ryan was in my bedroom looking at my bookshelves. He couldn't have been more than 7 or 8 at the time, but he spied one he liked. "Sissy, can I borrow that one?" "To Kill a Mockingbird? Well sure, buddy, but I think it's probably advanced for you." "But it'll tell me -how-." It was then that I realized that he thought it was a sort of how to guide. I had been too excited by his interest to figure out what was going on.

My family is moving to North Carolina in a few months. Last week, I was on the phone with Ryan. "Are you excited to be moving?" I asked him. "Yeah," he answered. "Maybe there's no mockingbirds in North Carolina."
So I guess that means it's moved back in.

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