Today I interviewed a friend about her collection of rare and beautiful tropical birds.
My friend Rhonda and I have known each other for more than five years. I’ll never forget the day we met— both of us were on EKU’s campus for summer orientation—not only for our daughters, who were also beginning classes, but for ourselves.
I saw Rhonda walking across the parking lot and recognized her as “Brittany’s mom.” My daughter Hannah had told me that “Brittany’s mom” was thinking of going back to school too.
Anyway, I hurried to catch up with her, and I introduced myself. We easily struck up a conversation. I sensed that she was as nervous about this crazy thing we were doing in midlife as I was. We sat together during a summer orientation session and quickly learned that we had many common interests.
When classes started up in the fall, we ended up in the same English 101 class. Together we agonized over assignments and fretted about our professor’s vague expectations.
A couple of semesters later, we took the same Appalachian Studies class, and we often carpooled there together, both of us being from the same town. During the trip, we’d have long talks about religion, gardening, cooking and our families. We understood each other’s struggles as middle-aged college students from the hills of Kentucky on the verge of being empty nesters as few other people could.
It wasn’t easy, but now we can both say we are college graduates.
During our commutes, Rhonda would sometimes mention her bird hobby. Every now and then, I’d say, “I need to write a feature about your birds.”
We finally pinned down a day and time, and I went to her house today so she could show off her collection of exotic feathered friends.
I learned that there is one thing we don’t have in common—Rhonda is a very knowledgeable bird breeder; I didn’t know a cockatiel from a love bird.
She’s won dozens of ribbons and written articles for bird magazines. She’s set her alarm clock every hour and a half round the clock so she could feed baby cockatiels with a syringe.
She’s got a born-in-the-wild ringneck dove eating out of the palm of her hand, which she says is pretty much unheard of.
Not only that, but Rhonda the Bird Breeder made me a delicious lunch of cheesy potato soup, tuna salad and red velvet cake with cream cheese icing.
Like I say, this job has its perks.