In 1999, after seeing the bronze statue, Bird Girl, in the movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, I was struck by its ethereal presence. Here was this simple sculpture of a girl in a simple dress, holding up a plate in each hand in Savannah, Georgia. It evoked longing and magic.
Meanwhile, I was in Chicago longing to be a writing professor, a famous poet. My dreams seemed within reach. After I finished college, I went on to graduate school.
While in grad school, I didn’t thrive as much as I did in college. I was going through a depressive episode. My psychiatrist at the time was afraid that I wouldn’t graduate. This scared me, and I finished an entire collection of poetry (or thesis) that I had to defend in front of a committee, which was required to graduate.
After graduation I was eager to begin my career as a professor. Unfortunately, there was a glut of candidates looking for very few job openings. I taught part-time at several different schools, then the Breakdown happened. I’ve been on disability ever since.
My dreams were dashed.
That chapter of my life began in 1999. Twenty years later, this past March, I saw for the first time, the Bird Girl at the museum where she’s located. Because of her new home, photographs of her don’t give off as much of a dreamy quality the way it did when she was at Bonaventure Cemetery. Instead of being surrounded by tall, live oaks and other grave markers, her new backdrop overlooks the floor below and part of the ceiling. But she’s still standing.
And I’m still standing, too. I no longer harbor hopes of becoming a professor/famous poet. I don’t know what I’m going to be or what will be. I know I’ll continue to stand.
Is there a piece of artwork that speaks to you?