Thievery: Imaginary Birds
15th Jun 2010 in Thievery, Writing
Thievery is a series of blog posts about my story inspirations.
‘Imaginary Birds’, first published at Scapegoat Review, reprinted at BluePrintReview.
For several years, I wrote an online journal. I had journal friends whose lives I followed with interest, and we discussed our lives and our art through comments.
One girl – whose name I have now forgotten – posted many photos of her social circle; she called them her adopted family. She lived in a big house out in the country somewhere, full of God’s-eyes and old bicycle parts and copper saucepans. They smoked dope on the porch and played weird string instruments and everything they did was a ‘collective’. And there was a baby there too. It was not my journal-friend’s baby and she was not in a relationship with either of the child’s biological parents, but she was a parent. Everyone in the house was a parent. The baby was called Antigone, or Voltaire, or Leonardine, or something equally baroque. I thought to myself: THAT CANNOT WORK.
But perhaps it did. Perhaps they all lived and loved together and they were the happiest family ever and that baby has grown into a creative, questioning, sensible toddler, and everyone still lives in that house and it’s the most inspiring thing.
This girl was so lovely and fascinating and I envied her life, because although I wouldn’t want it for myself it seemed that it was exactly the life she wanted. And everyone should have exactly the life they want to have.
In the story, I wanted to talk about this sense of ownership. A mother owns a baby because she makes a baby, but of course a child is a small person and people are owned by no-one. So who really has rights over a child? Who has responsibility? Does biology mean anything? Does it matter who incubates you, who feeds you with their body, who gives half of their own self to you? What does matter?
(Note: I tried to find the girl’s journal so that I could post one of her photos here, but it’s gone. Deleted. And because I don’t know her name, I can’t track her down. So thanks for the inspiration, stranger.)