(Disclaimer: this has nothing to do with crochet/crafts, and it will be rather lengthy. You may skip it.)
When I was a kid of elementary school age, I don’t know when exactly, I had a friend whose home I sometimes went to after school to play. This friend was the very proud owner of a little budgie named “Piepsi”. (I guess that’s the German equivalent to “Tweety”.)
I don’t remember much about that bird beside its name – my brain is even arguing with itself about whether it was blue or green. (It was blue. No, I am quite certain it was green. Shut up! No, YOU shut up!!!) What I do remember, though, is that from that day forward, I was begging my parents for a budgie of my very own. I got my sister to be in on it, and together we were pestering my parents the way only little kids can. I am sure they were exasperated with us, my dad being absolutely anti-animals-in-the-house and all. (Because they are messy. And if there’s one thing that my dad is anti to, then it’s dirt and a mess.) But I guess my parents realized that I was absolutely dead serious about this bird business when my sister and I started to make drawings of budgies, and fold little origami boxes, glue them onto these drawings, and fill them to the brim with the contents of our piggy banks, gifting these budgie-money-packets to my parents at every opportunity.
(Kind of reminds me of when my daughter asked for a Furby for her birthday, to which I said “No – way too expensive!”, to which she said: “Ok, so I’ll ask Christkind (= Santa around here) for one instead, so you guys don’t have to pay for it.” Couldn’t say much after that – her logic was absolutely solid.)
And so was ours – my sister’s and mine. My parents caved in. And so it happened that one day after school the doorbell suddenly rang. Our grandparents were over for a visit, and we didn’t expect anybody else, so with the OK from my parents I curiously went and opened the door.
And… TOTALLY FLEW OFF MY ROCKER!!!
Outside, perched on one of our folding chairs, sat a small bird cage with a pink plastic bottom, and inside of it, my own personal dream come true: a beautiful green baby budgie!
I didn’t realize what I saw there for the first few seconds, but then I squealed and skwaked and jumped up and down and around in circles, most likely terrifying that poor little thing completely, dancing around the hallway. My heart pounded with excitement, and I loved my parents to the moon and back at that moment for finally letting me have what I had so desperately wanted.
From that moment on my life was the absolute bomb. (Not that it hadn’t already been before, but… you know. From my 10-year-old perspective, anyway.) I took the cage and placed it on a kitchen cabinet by the window, and from then on I spent endless hours and hours and hours with that bird. I sat in front of the cage and talked to him every day, I even started to do my homework in the kitchen right next to the cage in order to be close to him, my little love Jakob. And before long, a deep friendship was forged. Jakob became a vital part of our family very quickly, being an absolutely amazing and tame and loving and loveable and funny little creature. He’d seek our attention and love all the time, his antics were incredibly funny, and he was just an overall blast to be around. His trust and friendship were extremely important to me in my growing-up process, I think he grounded me more than once with his calming and uplifting presence when puberty had me in its terribly chaotic grip.
Jakob & I in 1989, doing homework together.
Of course, we did many things very wrongly with this bird, as I learned later, and know now. His cage was so small that it shouldn’t have been more than a quarantine cage for a sick bird who needed to be separated from his partner(s), it was NOT an adequate bird home by any measures. The location of the cage in the kitchen is an absolute no-go, due to the potentially even lethal fumes produced there during cooking. I guess we were just lucky that nothing ever happened to him there. A dog-shaped piggy bank was the object of his sexual desire, which he kept feeding and dancing for like it was the prettiest hen. Plus, and worst of all, Jakob was alone. His companions when we were out and about were a mirror and a plastic birdie that was slid onto a plastic perch. I cringe in horror even thinking about all of that now. In retrospect, it wasn’t really any wonder that this bird was so attached to us the way he was. Honestly, he never seemed unhappy to me at all, for all the attention he got – but that doesn’t make our mistakes undone, nor the damage we inadvertently did to his little budgie brain. I guess he just adapted to his reality and made the best of it, and we made sure to provide him with as much attention and entertainment as was possible. For humans, anyway. In our defense, though: this was the late 80s/early 90s, and people weren’t really as knowledgeable about these things as they are today. It was just the way budgies were usually kept, it was what you saw almost everywhere where people had birds.
I must have been around 14 or 15 when I finally learned that budgies are not solitary beings, but absolutely need the company of another bird in order to be truly happy. So the whole process of convincing my parents started all over again, and it seemed even harder than the first time around, because now everybody loved and adored Jakob and the way he was, and everybody was afraid that he’d stop being so tame and loving once another bird entered the scene. I wouldn’t let go, though… so eventually Charlie entered our life, in just the same way that Jakob did a few years earlier: in a cage on a chair right outside our door, as a surprise for us. A cute light blue little thing with white wings and light grey markings – a gorgeous little baby.
In retrospect, I guess it was a well-meant mistake. Jakob was way too attached to humans, and didn’t know how to deal with another budgie anymore. He was afraid of the other one most of the time, and it took years to get him used to Charlie’s presence at all. The first years they spent in separate cages next to each other when they were not out and about – and Charlie never wanted anything to do with us humans. It got better over time, though, and eventually they became something like friends. It wasn’t perfect, but it still felt a lot better to me than the alternative of dooming Jakob to a long life of never ever having met another budgie at all.
And a long life it was: Jakob lived to be 16, and Charlie made it to 11.
I lived in LA when they both passed away. I was devastated, and always missed my two feathery buddies. Birds are kind of my thing. But even after returning back home to Europe, I never thought of getting another pair anymore. (My two cats would have ended this experiment rather quickly, too.)
Then, the next chapter in life was the sudden onset of my constant battle with allergies. As it happened, I developed a cat allergy so severe, that after a couple of years of dealing with several doses of asthma medicine daily, and avoiding any and all contact with my very own snuggly cats, we had to eventually give them up. Personal health issues outweigh all love for your animals – a tough lesson I learned when my mere existence at home became absolutely unbearable.
Budgies crossed my mind again, after that happened. But we lived in a home that had a kitchen that opened into the living room, creating one big room instead of two separate ones, and was therefore completely unsuitable for birds. Too dangerous! Fumes, hot stoves, full pots and pans… no way. I wanted pets though, and seeing as I, by then, was allergic not only to cats, but pretty much everything else with hair as well, we got an aquarium. And then another one. With Red Fire Shrimp. Cuteness! Then, last month, we moved into a place that has a kitchen completely separated from the living room. We gave up the big aquarium, because I had no interest in moving with it, but we kept the Red Fire Shrimp. We promised the kids geckos to make up for the lost fish, because they were upset…
…but then it hit me: budgies!!!
I now finally have the perfect place to give budgies a home again – forget them boring ole’ geckos! (…and all this cricket-feeding business, YUCK!) Our kitchen can be safely closed off with a door, we have enough room for a large cage, and also a lot of room for birdie-playgrounds and the likes. Once I realized this, I was beyond excited! The thought felt like coming home, if that makes sense: if I am not allergic to my feathery loves like I am to pretty much everything else that breathes, I might just be able to give my kids the opportunity to grow up with animals, after all – an option I have painfully said farewell to when it became clear that I cannot be around so many kinds of animals. Yes, maybe my kids can grow up with animals, after all… fun ones, exciting beyond the shrimp in the aquarium, and more exciting than the geckos could have ever been. An experience hopefully much like my own, growing up. And for me – a new opportunity at a friendship with these amazing, smart, fun little creatures.
I took an allergy test a year ago. I actually took it because I seriously wanted to have a dog at the time. Unfortunately, it just confirmed my very extensive problems with furry things at large, much to my chagrin. But, much to my delight, it also said that I do not have a problem with birds!
So, today we have finally decided to go for it. My husband gave his blessings – so we will give 2 budgies a home, and very soon!!! I will have animal friends around me yet again! And I am so excited!
I have ordered a Montana Madeira cage with some supplies online today, and we spent some time in a pet store, letting the kids pick out some toys. I simply had to share. Stay tuned for more!