“Paul got chickens???” My best friend Cynthia texted me one afternoon.
“Chickens?” I texted back. I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. “Like, as pets?”
She sent me a screen shot of Paul’s instagram, the latest picture featuring five chickens outside on grass beside my estranged cat, Zart.
“Chickens!” I texted back. “Are they for eggs? Or are they going to eat them?”
Cynthia couldn’t answer those questions. I zoomed in on the picture a little more closely. His caption read happily. Like he fully intended to have chickens in his back yard. Not like they were some wild animals that had unexpectedly wandered onto his property. Paul wanted chickens. Of course he did. Where do you even get chickens?
“What do they do with the chickens in the winter?” I wondered, knowing that Cynthia wouldn’t be able to answer that either. She knew as much about domestic chickens as I did.
I looked at the chicken picture one more time, then I flicked the screenshot away with my thumb. Suddenly it was like a weight was unexpectedly lifted off my shoulders. I felt free. In that moment, I knew for sure. Breaking up with Paul had been the right choice.
Don’t get me wrong. We’d broken up years ago and were both happily in our own relationships for years now. We’d been apart for much longer than we’d been together at this point. And I didn’t regret it. It was just that sometimes, in those dark moments at 3am when anxiety lurked in the back recesses of my mind, I wondered if I had been justified in breaking up with Paul and hurting him the way I had. I sometimes chided myself for being so dismissive of Paul. For not appreciating all he was and all he had to offer. I took him for granted, and he hadn’t deserved it.
But chickens! Paul now had chickens living in his backyard. Knowingly! Wantingly! Clearly, I’d been thinking back on the entire situation mistakenly. The whole time, he had been a person who wanted chickens. He’d be happy to have chickens residing alongside of him on his property. I don’t even like chickens that much, or eggs. I don’t ever want to be anywhere near a live chicken. They scare me. The idea of eating the egg of the chicken that lives in my backyard makes me queasy. It’s too rural. I’m a person who can only now in my old age can even begin to stomach the idea of living in the suburbs, much less the country.
If I had stayed with Paul, and he’d asked me to get chickens, I would have laughed. I wouldn’t have taken him seriously. I can’t think of any age, in any parallel universe where I would want my own chickens. But chickens make Paul happy. And now Paul has chickens. So he’s happy, and I’m vindicated. I didn’t break his heart for nothing, I did it so he could have chickens.
That’s the fundamental difference between me and Paul. That’s the indisputable proof that I did the right thing. Chickens. Some people want them and some people don’t.
Boy, was I right to fly that coop.