birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Border Crossings

I was driving too fast through Windsor. As I always did. In the Corolla I had bought off a lover who was eager to move on from me and what he saw as a middle class, middle age work a day vehicle and instead buy some long nosed penis car, black and sporty and welcoming to women in high heels and black stockings.

Windsor, sitting on the river, place of passage from Canada to Detroit and the doorway opening to my Michigan home. A place I passed through between the growing up home in Western NY and the grownup home in southeastern Michigan. It was hours on Canadian highways, seeking out radio stations and alone with my thoughts and chiding myself to slow down when I hit the city limits, but usually not listening. But always the moment with Ambassador Bridge in sight and the long line of border control traffic ahead of me and then there’s no choice but to slow. I dutifully check the rear view mirror, making sure I’m not setting myself up for a rear end collision, when a different kind of collision happens.

My eyes meet those of the stranger in the truck behind me, a weathered pick up with character, but that barely registers, because it’s the character at the wheel that locks my attention. Cowboy hat, with an iron tip, high cheekbones and handsome face, a trace of beard. Neither of us drops our gaze, and we both know in an instant that in another life we would have been the other’s one. We linger in that possibility longer than makes sense in the traffic, and I’m about to gesture toward the duty free parking lot, when I see him swerving into the faster lane and he’s passing me, past me, I swear touching his hat as goes by. I keep my eyes on the truck, but he’s through the booth and crossed the border while I’m still holding my passport.

He’s left me with my mouth full or weight and my heart fraught with loss. I imagine he’s turning into the hipster sector of Detroit where high ceilinged lofts with brick walls and vast expanse of space that can be turned to studios are still possible, and that he’s thinking of the probably beautiful, probably long legged, certainly wildly talented girl friend is waiting to welcome him home. There are some borders that are very difficult to cross. The line that divides the land of the stranger’s heart and my own is closely guarded and you need very special visas to get through. For a moment I dreamed of being an illegal immigrant. A different kind of dreamer.


Cash in Hand