One of my friends recently texted: Do you need an extra chicken? She doesn’t lay eggs. And I thought to myself, Who doesn’t need an extra no-egg-laying chicken? She’d started with a flock of three, and Athena (a lovely California Grey hen) was the only one left. Chickens don’t do well alone and I’m a sucker, so here she is - the new girl.
Do you remember being the new girl? Or are you like me: Do you still have that new girl feeling - that arriving breathless and sticky because you parked in the wrong lot and everyone else seems to speak the language and be in total command of their shit feeling - Regularly?
Shouldn’t I be over this by now? My younger self hoped that as my external new-girl-ness faded, my central-nervous-new-girl would diminish as well. Nope!
I thought that getting older would come with some freedom - from petty jealousies and paralyzing self-doubt. Nope!
And freedom from fashion! I thought that eschewing make-up and pointy shoes would feel like casting off the shackles of society’s narrow concept of beauty! Huzzah! Instead it feels like - having never mastered those skills - at this point, why bother? More abdication than Liberation.
I was planning to be confident and purposeful at my age. Very much at ease. I’d be pragmatic and forgiving about my flaws and make up for them with relentless grace and charm. On occasion, I might not know where to sit or what to wear and that would be awkward, but absolutely-positively not acutely painful.
Nope! I’m still lost on my way to gym class, trying not to appear terrified.
I had some concerns about introducing a stranger in the chicken yard because pecking order is real. But. Athena is no quiet wallflower, hoping not to be noticed until she decodes the group dynamic. She sprang forth from a cardboard box as if from the forehead of Zeus and spent the day chickening around in a very chill manner while everyone else hid in a potted plant. Now, they all get along just fine.
Athena is so very much at ease, she’s started laying again. She even taught all the other birds to lay their eggs in the nesting box (instead of just wherever, as was previously the case). Inspirational AF.