The Bird Market of Paris: A Memoir
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
"This may be the most original cross-species love story I've ever read. Part travelogue, part recovery memoir, and one hundred percent compelling." -Gwen Cooper, author of the New York Times bestselling Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat
"[An] epiphany-provoking gem of a story, skillfully crafted, vivid and rich with feeling." -Richard Blanco, Presidential Inaugural Poet and author of The Prince of los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood
"A stunning, exceptional memoir from a woman who truly understands and appreciates birds . . . A captivating, heart-warming tale and a delightful, inspiring read." -Joanna Burger, author of The Parrot Who Owns Me: The Story of a Relationship
Nikki Moustaki grew up in 1980s Miami, the only child of parents who worked, played, and traveled for luxury sports car dealerships. At home, her doting grandmother cooked for and fed her, but it was her grandfather-an evening-gown designer, riveting storyteller, and bird expert-who was her mentor and dearest companion.
Like her grandfather, Nikki fell hard for birds. "Birds filled my childhood," she writes, "as blue filled the sky." Her grandfather showed her how to hypnotize chickens, sneak up on pigeons, and handle baby birds. He gave her a white dove to release for luck on each birthday. And he urged her to, someday, visit the bird market of Paris.
But by the time Nikki graduated from college and moved to New York City, she was succumbing to an alcohol addiction and was increasingly unable to care for her flock. When her grandfather died, guilt-ridden Nikki drank even more. In a last-ditch effort to honor her grandfather, she flew to France hoping to visit the bird market of Paris to release a white dove. And there, something astonishing happened that saved Nikki's life.
off grief by cooking dinner every evening, sometimes two and three dinners a day, putting the next day’s meal into the freezer, baked ziti with béchamel sauce, lasagnas, and spinach pies. We ate at the table as a family every night for the first time in many years. Before that, my parents ate together in front of the TV, and my mom kept a plate for me for whenever I rolled in, or I foraged in the refrigerator for myself. “I like this change of eating at the table as a family,” my mom told me
hair. They were punching me, and I was throwing punches, too, though my punches were not connecting. Two bouncers squeezed through the crowd and pulled us apart. I had two seconds to breathe before they pushed us back together for round two. I thought bouncers were supposed to stop fights and kick out the perpetrators, but these bouncers wanted more of the show. Punching, slapping, kicking. I couldn’t get my bearings: faces, lights, the floor, the ceiling, each a flash, like wayward images in an
fixed myself breakfast: a tall glass of Kahlúa topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream—for the calcium, of course. My perk-up strategy was called “feed a hangover.” I ate two bananas, a can of Chef Boyardee Ravioli, cold and out of the can, and drank some “hair of the dog,” alcohol from the night before. The hangover relented most of the time, though I gained thirty pounds in a few months. As liquor eroded my central nervous system, I became paranoid. I installed hook-and-eye locks on the
hyperventilated into it. The bag made a sound like someone dancing on a piece of corrugated fiberglass. The guy next to me asked what was wrong. Wrong? How could he tell something was wrong? I removed the bag from my mouth long enough to tell him I was afraid of flying. “I shouldn’t tell you this,” he said, and paused, “but my mom died in a plane crash.” I removed the bag from my mouth again. “Commercial jet?” I hoped he would say she’d died in a two-seater and had been flying the plane
outside Paris. It had never occurred to me to look up Saint-Germain-en-Laye on a map. I had assumed it was a part of Paris, the way the East Village is part of New York City, but it was more like Queens—an upscale, French version of Queens. I dumped my bags in the steamy, infinitesimal, slanted attic room and sat on the narrow, springy bed. The room was decorated with fashion magazine ads and American movie posters, Corona and Budweiser bottles, a few stuffed animals, and the various knickknacks