I am sitting on my rooftop deck, talking on the phone with my mom. I’m in one of those weird emotional states where I feel mesmerized by everything and feel I should contemplate the meaning to my life, even the littlest details like what am I making of this warm Sunday afternoon.
With my feet propped onto the deck chair, I am being burned by the sun, but there is no shade to escape within. We have not acquired an umbrella for this Craigslist patio set, but since I am moving in a few weeks, there is no point. I watch my skin turn red, but I do not move inside. I want to feel the heat.
A pigeon joins me on the deck. It squats on the wooden railing, picking at scraps shaken off by the nearby trees. My boyfriend calls these birds the “rats of the sky,” but when I stop squinting and take a closer look, I realize it’s not a pigeon at all, but a light brown dove. Where is its mate, I wonder?
After surveying the railing, it lies down and looks out onto the city below. I move my chair so that it squeaks on the wood, expecting to startle the dove to see if it flies off. But it just turns and looks at me. I smile. I don’t know what it is about this apartment, but I think I’ve found another Petey.
Once I end the conversation with my mom, I go inside to transfer my clothes from the washer to the dryer. The laundry room is adjacent to the deck and has a small window where I keep my basil and rosemary. I look out to see if the dove is still there and find it sitting on the patio table, inches from where I was. It looks around, as if protecting its new-found home.
When I return, it’s back on the railing, keeping the other doves and chipmunks at bay. I see now that it has a routine. It picks at the scraps along the railing, then squats and looks out over the city, and then moves around the railing again. I wonder about its end game. Surely, there’s nothing left for it here.
But as the sun sets and I can no longer read from my Kindle, I say farewell to my new friend and walk inside to make dinner. A few minutes later as I’m pulling my laundry out of the dryer, I look out the window again, and the dove is gone. It finally moved on.
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