(Hazy the Penguin was a character I wrote extensively about from my late teens to early twenties. Had anyone ever read the short stories and poems they’d know Hazy was a scruffy looking penguin, compared to his tuxedo’ed flock, and his thing was, because he was a bird he really thought he should be able, and refused to stop trying, to fly. He was met with scorn and anguish for both his appearance and aspirations. So it goes.)
We now return, many many years since we last saw him, to the unfolding life of Hazy the Penguin.
After all that time in the zoo, Hazy was getting out. Somewhere deep inside he had a nagging feeling that he should be beyond excited to finally be free of the walls made to replicate his real, free life, but which always fell so short. Upon reflection, while he couldn’t quite conjure the excitement he felt echoing deep within, he did realize just how bitter he was made by the zoo habitat’s attempts to recreate something that he faintly recalled as being so pure. The natural world where, despite vaguely remembering never being fully accepted as “normal” there, was at least and most definitely, the home to which he belonged.
It was because of this realization that when the penguins were given the opportunity to either enter the polar-bound freighter for the north, or remain in the quasi-comfort of the zoo’s confines, he boarded. It would have been a surprise to those who weren’t “rescued” all those years ago from their tundra and brought to this place who had known Hazy in his formative years, that while living in the exhibit that he thought would be his forever home, he finally met and procreated several times with another penguin. Penguin love is forever and they fell into a groove in life at the zoo.
Alas, when the north bound freighter left the zoo, his mate had declined the offer at the last minute, opting for the freedom his release would grant her. Not realizing this until the truck was safely away from the zoo, Hazy fell into a funk that lasted the entire trip which seemed to take a very, very long time.
Upon arrival, Hazy kept his head down and behaved as if he were still in his unnatural pen where he had dwelt for so long. Eventually, however, Hazy couldn’t help but lift his chin to feel the cool salty air from a past era so far gone its refreshing embrace was like the remembrance of a dream long forgotten. But it wasn’t until he fell in with another of his kind on the fringe of their flock that the flood overtook his heart and he remembered everything like a fog lifted from an ice cap after an unusually warm spring morning.
She, like him, had insecurities about not being the same as all the other penguins. In trying to help her past these, over time, the flood helped Hazy recall to back when this was thought to be his forever home where yes, the others did not always reciprocate the kindness he so desired and it sometimes made him very sad, but at the same time it never dampened his spirits enough to stop just being himself. As crazy as his dreams were to the collective them, he was relentless in this pursuit, always. She liked him. And as she noticed this new wave of confidence surge through him, her insecurities began to drop as well.
And so, despite others pointing at them and using them as examples of something that should not be for this reason or that, Hazy was back to being the “scruffy penguin who could not fly”. He was overwhelmed with pride and excitement, and could not believe his good fortune. After allowing himself to be swayed by so many years in becoming something he tied his identity to, only to have it ripped away, he forgot his true nature. He thought that thought (for he knew all of this, now) and then waved a flipper that would never let him soar like the eagles and falcons he envied for so long at that thought, knowing it was the last of a million times he wasted any tears or energies on it. He turned, and his new best friend was right beside him as always, and together they went off to see what else they couldn’t do so they could go do it.
Finally, and maybe for the first time in life, Hazy was home.