This is Mr. Duck.
He is an adventurer—a bird of many hats who has traversed the years with me.
I first met him when he showed up on my doorstep, leading a band of other misfit lawn ornaments. Which, by the way, is a redundancy since lawn ornaments are by nature misfits.
The moment I saw Mr. Duck and his motley crew I knew I would always love him. I also knew my friend, G, was the lawn ornament donor. G has always been generous. He has also always had an affinity for lawn ornaments.
Anyway, I graciously returned the gnomes, flamingos and other lawn riff raff to G, but kept Mr. Duck for myself. I sensed his strength of courage and versatility, and wanted him to be a part of my life. He quickly became a good friend—almost as good a friend as G.
It didn't take long, however, for Mr. Duck to grow antsy. He wasn't content to sit on my shelf and watch me navigate my senior year of high school. He wanted to be navigating a life of his own—exploring new terrain, climbing new mountains, sailing new seas.
Mr. Duck's first destination of choice was Antarctica. So I bundled him up in a home-made scarf and duck-sized ear muffs, snuck into G's house, and put him in G's refrigerator. Plane tickets to Antarctica are expensive.
He enjoyed his time in his dark, chilly corner of the city for awhile. Although I'm guessing it didn't take long before he grew restless.
Next thing I knew I found Mr. Duck hiking from my mailbox to my house, complete with duck-sized hiking pack and floppy-brimmed hat.
I brought him in for a tall glass of lemonade and some rest, and brainstormed his next adventure with him.
Turns out he had a hankerin' for the high seas. So I strapped on his eye patch, red bandana, and curly mustache (ahooooy there mateeey), and let him set sail on my brother's pirate ship in the raging waters of G's bath tub.
Back and forth Mr. Duck went, enjoying fantastic adventure after fantastic adventure. Until that fateful day when I left Mr. Duck at G's house one last time before moving 1,000 miles south to Azusa Pacific University.
I can't say that I missed Mr. Duck in the excitement of moving, but as I walked down the long, unfamiliar hallway of my dorm for the first time I felt a twinge of longing to see something familiar.
I stopped outside my dorm room, trying to ignore the stench of old dorm—a mixture of dust, cat urine, and mold—took a deep breath, and walked inside. And there was Mr. Duck, sitting on my desk with a walkie talkie strapped to his feathery bum. Turns out G had arrived at Azusa Pacific a bit before me, had the other walkie talkie, and wanted to see someone familiar, too.
The duck became a permanent fixture of my dorm room that year: a friendly, feathered piece of home that made my college transition a little less lonely. That's why it was so tragic when, in the middle of one of my several moves in college, Mr. Duck disappeared. I think he may still be buried in some random friend's garage somewhere. Lucky friend.
So here I am today fighting what's become a three-week battle with tonsillitis, in my childhood home where I first met Mr. Duck, with Mr. Duck nowhere to be seen. I'm sipping honey-lemon water, researching ENT doctors, wondering if a tonsillectomy would alleviate some of my chronic infection and fatigue, and feeling generally overwhelmed and discouraged.
And then my dad walks in and says, "Sarah, there's something in the driveway for you." Which makes me think that there is an old friend waiting in the driveway to surprise me, which makes me suddenly very aware of my pasty face, wrinkled pjs, and messy hair.
I work up the courage to go outside, and this is what I find:
A new lawn ornament friend bearing a gift: herbal "throat coat" tea. There is an accompanying card, from G.
Suddenly my day looks a whole lot brighter, and the possibilities for future fantastic adventures seem endless.