By Naomi Serviss
I won the serendipity lottery a few days ago.
I witnessed 13 fledgling starlings being released in Central Park.
It was a perfect moment.
Angely, 18, toted a chirping, zipped-up vinyl carrier to Summit Rock.
She coaxed the discombobulated creatures out of the carrier.
These lucky birds had been nursed back to health by volunteers at the Upper West Side’s Wild Bird Fund.
Their emergencies had passed.
It was captivity graduation day. They were ready for their natural habitat close-up.
I chatted with Angely, a teenager who aspires to be a wildlife rehab veterinarian.
She shared how injured birds come to be brought to the Wild Bird Fund.
Nest cast-offs, cat-mauling victims and window-flying-into accidents topped the list.
Did she ever get a crush on a particular bird or are they all the same to you?
“They’re all the same.”
The sun was bright.
One last starling holdout played it cool in the carrier’s corner.
Angely persuaded it to venture out. The mission was complete.
A catbird flew down to inspect the interlopers.
Angely said catbirds are very territorial. They shouldn’t bother the starlings.
We watched the birds drunkenly hop around terra firma. Some winged it gracelessly to the bush above.
The catbird kept a side eye on the mini flock. No harm was done.
I hoped these baby birds would savor flight. I always dreamed of flying. Who hasn’t?
There’s a new-car smell in the air.
Lincoln Center jazzed up its plaza with green turf carpet.
The topiary-like chairs are a nifty touch.
Restaurant Row is inching back. Live theater will return in August.
New York is the cat that always comes back.
The May 24th New Yorker’s cover mirrors our collective psyche.
A sliver of blue sky, a few puffy clouds and the Empire State Building beckons to a shadowy family of four.
They’re holding hands, looking up into the golden light of an awakening New York.
That issue goes in my gives me joy stash.
We can hug fully vaccinated friends and family.
Masks are sometimes optional. It’s a workable mess.
I still carry colorful paper masks in my black and white nylon backpack. Just in case.
I’m still getting the hang of life beyond fear.
Most Central Park regulars are bare-faced. The dog playgroup people are jokey and chatty.
My free-floating anxiety is morphing into equanimity.
Acceptance of my limitations is getting easier.
I no longer walk briskly. I notice water droplets on a green maple leaf. A dandelion waiting to be wished upon. A wallet.
It takes me two hours to walk two park miles.
Early morning walks have been my salvation.
Every step is a tonic for my edgy nerves. Arm exercises helps regulate my breathing.
People are here to exercise, run, bike, speed walk, stretch or dog tend.
We’re all in the same zone. No judgment.
I do a make-it-up-as-I-go walking series of faux rowing and yoga balancing dashed with tai chi.
My depression and migraines have lessened. I feel cautiously optimistic.
I hugged my friend Roberta right on the street.
It had been a year since we last did that.
We’re not out of the woods yet.
But we’re starting to take flight.
Naomi Serviss is a New York-based award-winning journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Highroads (AAA magazine), in-flight publications, spa and travel magazines and websites, including BroadwayWorld.com