The bird can look down and marvel at how the fish swims — so deft and deep — and cheer him on from her lofty perch. And the fish can look up in awe of the bird’s flight and watch her soar, imagining what it feels like to weave between the clouds.
And they can help keep each other safe. The bird can alert the fish when bad weather is coming so he can ride out the storm, deep below the turbulent waves. And the fish can locate teeming schools of krill for the bird when she’s hungry and tired of hunting. They can support each other and be good for one another…but they can’t be together.
If they tried, one or the other would drown.
When I met you, you were trying so hard to live as a bird. You put on some feathers, hoping it would be enough to change you — or at least enough to convince me. I should have known you weren’t a bird when you spent so much time underwater. I caught glimpses of your scales and watched you struggle to breathe in the open air, but I wanted to believe someday you’d fly away with me — so I created justifications for the obvious.
Some days I followed your lead and dipped below the breaking waves, trying to get closer…and then I took in a lungful of water and immediately surfaced. I coughed and sputtered and was so mad at you.
“We are birds!!! Why are we down here?”
But somewhere inside I knew you were not a bird. I didn't want to believe it was true.
I so badly wanted to fly away with you.
Recently, you took off your feathers and finally admitted to me that you are a fish. And when you stripped out of those fake plumes, you were the most beautiful fish I had ever seen. I was so happy for you — that you were done trying to be something you are not.
And then my heart went dark, realizing what that meant for me.
We would never fly away together.
For a moment I tried to find any possible way it could work.
“Maybe???…maybe?… maybe I can be okay spending my life with this beautiful fish without ever really being with him. Maybe I can grow some scales of my own and…and learn to hold my breath for longer and longer periods of time or maybe I can learn to live out of proximity of my beloved and… and …and … and…
It won’t work.
She can’t grow gills.
He can’t spring feathers.
And they both have to accept things the way they are, not the way they wish they could be.