After her conversation with Prudence and Amber, Lizette was left with not much to do. She fed her birds and cleaned their cages, and then she leafed through a few magazines. She thought about calling Amber so they could talk in French. Lizette, having grown up in New Orleans and being of Creole heritage, was fluent, as was Amber. But she didn’t want to bother Amber so soon after they just talked in the morning. She thought about texting Prudence but figured she would be exercising or meditating. And then she thought about getting in touch with Ellowyne but she was probably preoccupied with Rufus. Lizette was happy for them, of course, but deep down she had always wished that Rufus might turn to her if he got tired of his one-sided romance with Ellowyne. Maybe he could introduce her to some of his engineering buddies. Or maybe she should try Tinder or a dating site. But this was not the time to start dating someone because of the shelter-in-place orders. It would even be difficult if she tried to reconnect with her old boyfriend back in NOLA. Goodness. Would he even remember her after so long? Lizette sighed. She was bored. Very bored. Bored enough to call it ennui?
Fortunately, Lizette’s was short-lived. She quickly went from having little to do to a full schedule. The second week of the shelter-in-place order, she received a call from a local bird sanctuary asking her if she could spare some time to help out. Several volunteers had quit because of the pandemic, so she was tasked to feed the birds, clean the cages, and interact with them, especially birds that mimicked speech. It was pleasant work for Lizette especially since she was starting the veterinary school at UC Davis in the fall.
Between finishing her classes at State and taking care of the birds, Lizette found herself busier than usual. She kept up with her friends via text, FaceTime, or Zoom meetings. One day a new volunteer started. His name was Lawrence. Under his mask, he was a handsome fellow with soulful brown eyes, a well-trimmed beard, and deep umber skin. Lizette had met a number of guys at college, and occasionally some of Rufus’ engineering cohorts, but none made her knees shake and her heart flutter. Lawrence did.
“So you’re interested in birds, too,” he said. “I’ve loved them from when I was a little kid. My grandmother had birds and that’s how I got into them. And you?”
“I got interested in birds because of my grandmother, too. She had a couple of parrots that she loved so much. Sometimes we went bird watching.”
“I love bird watching,” Lawrence exclaimed. “I even joined a bird watching society but everyone else was at least 60. Not that I didn’t enjoy their company, but it would have been nice to have someone closer to my age.”
“I joined a group, too, when I lived in New Orleans,” Lizette said. “And I found the same thing. But my grandmother made a bunch of friends in that group.”
Lawrence asked, “What are your favorite birds?”
“I love talking birds,” Lizette answered. “Right now I have an African grey. And you?”
“An African grey? You are so lucky! Those birds are amazing. I have a couple of canaries named Bruno and Bob. They fit in with my lifestyle. I live in an apartment with three other guys, and I can’t always count on them to feed my birds. It should work well in the fall, when I start veterinary school at UC Davis.”
Lizette was gobsmacked. “I’m going to the UC Davis veterinary school in the fall, too!”
He exclaimed, “No kidding! Are you doing the aviary program, too?”
Lizette nodded. “That’s why I chose Davis.”
“Are you going to commute or move there?”
“Right now I plan to commute. My parents live here and I have a bunch of friends who live here, too. Although most of them are headed to grad school. One friend is doing law school at Stanford. She’s planning to commute. Another is going to State for a holistic physical therapy track. She went there for undergrad, so she will live at home. I also have a friend who is already at Berkeley and he plans to commute. He’s doing a PhD in mechanical engineering and statistics for engineering,” Lizette said.
Lawrence smiled. “Wow! You hang out with an intelligent bunch of friends!”
Lizette added, “Oops. I forgot one of my friends. He was a medic in the Army and he’s finishing nursing school at State. Right now he’s working in the ER and taking care of coronavirus patients.”
“That’s got to be tough,” Lawrence stated. “It sounds like nurses are working 16-hour shifts with few days off. It’s nonstop.”
“Yeah, that’s what Penn says. “He’s also said that it’s a lot like being in combat. You know, I haven’t seen my friends since the lockdown started, and I miss them. We usually met up at a coffee shop or a pub a couple of times a week. I mean, we stay in touch through text messages and FaceTime, and sometimes we have a Zoom meeting. But it isn’t the same,” Lizette said wistfully.
Under his mask, Lawrence scowled. “I hear you,” he said. “I wish I could take you out for coffee or maybe a drink but we can’t with COVID restrictions.”
“How about we exchange numbers so we can at least text?” Lizette suggested.
Lawrence thought that would be a great idea, and they planned to have a text date that evening.
To be continued…