I fly to England tonight. (Which is why you're getting this email a little early.) Maybe I'm flying as you read this. Maybe I'm watching my second or third bad film. Maybe I'm drinking a slightly-too-chill red wine and eating chicken and warming the frozen pat of butter between my thighs (pro plane tip!). Maybe I'm finding my connection in Dubai. Or maybe I'm there already, in Birmingham. Maybe I'm home.
But as I type, I'm sitting in bed in Melbourne with my laptop, drinking coffee, dyeing my eyebrows and thinking about what to write to you. And as I think about it, something heavy flies into my window. A small bird or a very large insect. I can't turn my head fast enough so there is just a dark shape falling away from the corner of my eye.
And I remember a time when I was little and an owl had flown into the window at the church centre and left a perfect imprint of itself behind on the glass. I found out later that this isn't such an unusual occurrence, but at the time it might as well have been the Turin Shroud.
The church centre was/is the building next door to the church where the kids attend Sunday School and the adults drink coffee after the service. Sunday School is church-lite where you get an accessible version of the bible stories and sing songs and do crafts before nipping into the last ten minutes of the actual service to get a quick blessing and wave to your mum. Sunday School is called Messy Church now, which says something (though I'm not sure what) about the changing times.
The morning of the owl incident, the Sunday School leader skipped part of the usual proceedings so we could spend time marveling at the ghostly outline, complete with feather-detailing and (I swear!) a shocked expression. The leader explained that they didn't know what had happened to the owl itself, but they thought it was probably alright. They didn't say anything hokey about it being under god's care or anything - I don't remember Sunday School being very spiritual at all - but the owl window felt special. It felt more wondrous and important that any of the more colourful windows in the ornate building next door.