The first thing that piques my attention visiting the Strip District was the pigeons.
I see the oddest things in the most normal places; eccentric people among the average; eclectic collections in mundane functional spaces. This trip I just happened to see pigeons, and it makes me laugh out loud.
Among the stress of traffic jams and streets so packed I have to scrunch in my shoulders–I have a wider frame–I nearly miss my turn to cross the intersection because I can’t stop watching these damn birds. They’re darting in and out just in front of two lanes of cars revving to meet the green light once it changes from red, certainly without any regard for the hungry creatures wrestling each other Darwin-style for the bread someone’s thrown them.
I am a person that is easily amused by nature. When I was a kid growing up in Detroit I would play in the dirt by the side of the house, plucking up worms to play with or befriending spiders and pill bugs. I’d sit for hours, fascinated by the sycamore trees and the hostas and the stars at night.
But my location–Detroit–wasn’t exactly a tree-hugger’s paradise. On one side of the street were oak and elm and maple trees, and on the other was grey dirt and gravel and cracked pavement. This created a juxtaposition that I find ironic but necessary–and I see this everywhere I go.
And like that I’ve crossed the street on my own journey to the hill with St. Patrick Church at the top, overlooking the Strip below. I’ve forgotten all about the pigeons on a quest to nab a beakful of bread and their daring escapade in the street. I’m in a church, the perfume of incense and snuffed candles overwhelming in the dimly lit space with thin, worn red carpet beneath my feet.
I feel claustrophobic. I feel judged, just like the “flying rats” who were playing in the street. Though pigeons are beautiful animals with their feathers of purple and green and every shade of grey and their gentle coos soft enough to put a baby to sleep, they are considered disgusting.
It makes me think how wild it is that we don’t always appreciate what we have on Earth, turning our faces to a higher power and forgetting to look back, forgetting to reflect on one’s own person except on Sundays. I’m staring at an offering box for those who light the candles, and then I’m staring at a haphazardly placed damaged cardboard box of cheap candles imported from China right next to it.
My friends are speaking next to me about how they want to climb the stairs, but don’t want to be judged by the others in the group. This is the opposite of what I am feeling, but ironic just the same.
I’m glad to breathe the fresh air when I step out of the building. I can hear bubbling conversations from the people walking both sides of the street, the shouting of vendors who are shivering in their coats and the accordion player outside the fish market bringing a little cheer just for the sake of bringing a little cheer. I like the accordion player.