Do you ever find yourself in a situation where something is suddenly just profoundly wrong? I don't mean like you've made a mistake. I mean deeply wrong. I have experienced this while snorkling, for example. All was well, there I was swimming merrily along the reef, breathing like Darth Vader through a rubber tube, marveling at flippery, shimmery, multi-colored nature. Then, quite suddenly, something swam innocently by and I panicked completely. Suddenly, I was overcome with the clear knowledge that I had no business trying to participate in the underwater kingdom. I was a land mammal for God's sake. I very clearly DID NOT BELONG HERE. I took off for shore as fast as I could.

Today was like that. I had a lot to bring in from the car, so after the first load, I just left the front door of my parents' house open. I went back to the parking lot, got the rest of my stuff, and came back to the house. I was gone for maybe seven minutes. I walked in, put everything down, and closed the screen door behind me. When I turned away from the door I saw something, sort of half registered it, and then did a complete cartoon double take. There was a bird about the size of a pigeon sitting on the window sill in the living room. This wouldn't have been such a big deal except that the window was closed and the bird was on the inside.

Seeing a bird inside the house is strangely shocking. The wrongness of it almost took my breath away for a moment. I was looking at it; it was clearly sitting right there, but my brain was saying: THIS SIMPLY CANNOT BE. The panic was soon to follow. Oh-my-god-that-is-a-a-big-bird-how-the-hell-am-I-going-to-get-it-out-of-here. I opened the screen door and just stood there for a moment trying to formulate a plan. Meanwhile, the bird looked at me, lept lightly from the window sill, flew toward me, and, making a graceful turn into the entry way, flew straight out the door. It sat for a few minutes on the porch railing before heading for the trees. Throughout our encounter, it was as calm as though it had just dropped in to pay a social call.

The equilbrium between inside and outside was restored almost as quickly as it had been disturbed, but I stared disbelievingly after that bird for several long minutes. When, at last, I reached to close the screen door, my hands were still shaking.