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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


Every time I see my two old childhood friends, Bijan and Raymond, one of them brings up the subject that I was the first one who had sex! Or that I was the first one to have a girlfriend; I was the one who was popular; I played pool or rode a motorcycle instead of going to school. They say something along the lines of: “You were always ahead of our age”!

Funny, how I don’t see it that way at all! Instead I see myself as suffering from PTSD, hyperactive, compulsive, anxious, addicted to nicotine, alone, and often ashamed! How can we have such differing attitudes towards my childhood stories! I always come away from these meetings feelings deeply unsettled, that I can’t share with them what I was actually experiencing, the traumas and the self-doubts that I endured for being so “popular” and so “ahead” of the others!

A few days ago, we saw each other at a café over a cup of tea. They both started the same old reminiscing about those days, and this time I told them that I had actually felt alone and isolated not very popular in those days. Just as we were saying our goodbyes Raymond again said: “And you were the first one to have sex with a girl during your summer camp in 7th grade!” And I felt the old rush of shame rising up about having “faked it” all these years. So I said: “Okay, yes, I did, but it was with another boy!”

“What do you mean,” said one. “And to think I slept in the same bed with you all those years,” said the other! And I just burst out laughing! “Yup, it was with a boy.” And with hindsight and a great deal of reflection as an educator I can now say: There was really nothing to be ashamed of!

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