My own “maybe” farewell—to the nest that raised me


Natalie Mix

A little snapshot of what’s becoming home—a candle, a succulent, and the bows we adorned them with

I never understood why the birds wanted to leave the nest. 

Not this nest—with its pale blue twigs threading between the ordinary earthy composition. Not this nest—perched apart from all the others, peaking between the leafy branches into the stunningly blue skies beyond.

But now, while those once-blue skies stormily swirl with the purple and gray hues of change, the nest no longer offers the comfort its rounded edges and soft tufts of grass once did. 

The crooked sprigs that once wove themselves into a hug now resemble the bars of a cage, stacked upon each other, one shortcoming after another. The sunlight that once warmly marbled the adjacent branches is now blinding, illuminating the secrets in the shadows. The pristine Robin’s eggs that once symbolized what could be, smattered and dappled with the sunniest of blues, now look at me with reproach, thin fractures in their brittle shells. 

Now, I understand why the birds wanted to leave the nest.

The tree is all I’ve ever known—an intersecting web of mossy branches and well-loved bark, nests of every color, shape, and size tucked into each nook and cranny. 

I think, in all of my time wrapped in the feathery folds of that nest, I didn’t spare much attention to the extent of the tree, how far and wide it stretched, how many different hidden pockets of love it had to offer. 

I was so busy giving everything I had to make that nest into a home I could be proud of.

I was so busy giving everything I had to make that nest into a home I could be proud of. Like a mother bird painted in warm browns and soft oranges, I collected little treasures and fashioned them into walls, leaving a bit of my soul on every bit of straw, every fallen leaf. 

Now, I resent the memories spun into the delicate fibers of the nest because they led to this. I resent that I rarely sought to fit in beyond what I resolutely believed was home. 

There was so much more out there, so many beams I could’ve balanced on, so many places where the sun cast her rays in pearly puddles of light. 

The nest may not feel like home, at least not right now, but there are so many places—so many people—that do. 

That table with not enough seats surrounded by tall windows and cast in the sky’s ever-changing complexion—where bright eyes and wide smiles greet me every day. Day after day, I’ve shattered the nest to unrecognizable fragments at that table, only to sheepishly piece it back together again. 

The worn green cushions of those chairs and the book-lined walls that wrap around them—soft, floating voices and a stage for passion to dance across, where sunlight falls in sheets against the pages of my book. My heart unfolds itself without pause like I always knew it would, and the nest is simply a part of my heart that reveals itself readily. 

The room that my feet have memorized the path to, a bright burst of colors and comfort, expression and enlightenment. Every one of the room’s affairs are familiar to me; I watch years pass by when I slip through the door, careful to disturb as little as possible, holding the pieces of that nest in my simply exhausted arms. 

The person who exists in bold outlines and confusingly thrilling decisions, in smiles that feel like gold, in small gestures that could fill notebooks. I’ve colored every memory lately with them, the songs and this city and right now, right now, right now. Here, the nest is nothing unless I want it to be. Here, I exist outside of the backdrops and props that populate my periphery. Here, I am only me.

For too long, I perched on the edge of that nest, surveying the cerulean sky with nervous anticipation, wondering how my wings would look in contrast to that boundless background. All along, I ignored the tree whose branches supported me—the tree that spread far and wide beneath me with countless unexplored expanses. 

I never understood why the birds wanted to leave the nest. But I understand now. And I understand that the nest was never meant to hold us this long.