So here I am, a man forever looking up at the sky, not in inspiration, but in vigilance.

Chinatown, San Francisco — 2021

I’ve just gotten my hair cut in Chinatown. My friend is getting his hair cut as well and walks outside to meet me when he’s done.

We stand there for a bit and talk, waiting for our third friend to join us. He’s a few minutes away. We’re going to grab some lunch.

I look up, and I see a group of pigeons sitting on the edge of a fire escape. They are moving around slowly, nipping at each other, very noisy. I’ve never liked pigeons.

The conversation resumes, until suddenly I see something falling.

Time slows as this white blob of pigeon shit drops on my friend’s freshly cut hair. Shellshocked, he goes back into the barbershop and asks to use the bathroom to wash his hair. Lucky for him, they oblige.

I find myself laughing uncontrollably, the sound barely masking my dread of becoming a victim of aerial assault. It seems the pigeons are laughing at my friend's expense as well. With this avian threat looming above, one is utterly defenseless.

East Village, New York — 2022

At Tompkins Square, I’m on the phone with someone, walking around. I hear a rustling and the burr of some pigeon in the tree above me. My mind flashes back to Chinatown, now an infamous incident in the cannon of Colin. I tell myself nothing will happen, but it’s still on my mind.

This time I don’t see it. And it’s too late.

Stuyvesant Square, New York — 2023

I’m at a park bench, one with no trees above it. It’s hard for a pigeon to shit on your head when they have no branch to sit on, right?

Wrong. I stand back up in disbelief. The odds of it happening once were slim, but twice? That's not how probability works I guess.

On my walk home, squadrons of pigeons roam the sidewalks and ledges, peering down at me. One of them mutters “Branches? Where we’re going, we don’t need branches.”

Present day

Pigeons are enforcers, tasked with humbling the overly proud and snapping the distracted back to reality. I’m not sure where I sit on the spectrum.

So here I am, a man forever looking up at the sky, not in inspiration, but in vigilance.