The only thing flying is an invisible sparrow

There’s a bird flying around Gate 2 in the A terminal at Washington National airport. I’ve got a box of leftover doughnuts from yesterday, and the coffee I’ve gotten to go with them is brassy but drinkable.

It’s a sparrow, I think. It’s picking at stray crumbs on the blue carpet, and I’m hoping it doesn’t lunge for my caramel doughnut.

Weirder than the sparrow: No one’s paying any attention. Everyone’s on an iPad, or reading, or talking. There’s one woman who’s been humming Christmas carols to herself — she’s in maybe in her 60s and wearing black Doc Martens, which I take as the sign of an enlightened soul, and she doesn’t react either. She’s reading a novel, pausing only to select an Altoid from a tin. Am I the only one seeing this bird? 

Our flight is delayed. Which is ok; I’ve got nowhere to be. This weekend was the kind of perfect balance between somewhere to be and nowhere to be. Cake in the afternoon, oysters at midnight and long, lingering catch-ups that remind me just how intertwined I am with people I barely ever see. 

We’re getting lots of apologies about the delay from the gate agent. She keeps saying, “I apologize for the delay” — the first-person pronoun — and I can’t help but wonder if this is some kind of marketing tactic that JetBlue uses to make people sound like they’re taking personal responsibility for the delay of an entire aircraft. It takes the edge off the anger. It’s not some faceless, “we apologize” — it’s “Again, I really do apologize.” And I want to go over there and tell her that it’s ok. We all make mistakes.

We all do. I mean, somehow a bird got in here. Unless that was the intention — someone started a nest of birds in National, and they just live here now. I say “nest of birds” although I only see one, because I can’t imagine how lonely it would be if this sweet little scavenger was all on her own. She? He? I don’t know my birds. We’ll call it a “she”. She bounces, looks up at me, just a foot away, and takes off for the rafters.