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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

39

He’s been my housemate for 39 years—really? How can that be?

We moved in together after about six months but we’d been sharing space before.

But 39 years! And counting.

And, I still learn new things—like yesterday, I learned that he refused to eat certain things that his mother put on his plate. Until yesterday, it was only his brother who was the “picky eater.” He didn’t like the texture of tomatoes—“they were mushy and dry,” said he—just yesterday.

Who is this man who has shared space with me for 39 years? How did we do that even?

And, we really have little in common. He cares about the outside, I fuss over the inside. He doesn’t need stuff; I have to have new dishes every couple of years. He is so solitary; I love parties and long trails of closest friends. He can’t do two things at once—truly, no walking and chewing gum; I can’t do less than three or four, or more. He likes order and routine; I can’t even get my teeth brushed everyday.

And, yet—there are those 39 years. And, they are NOT years of “quiet desperation”—though, there have been moments of despair. There have been joyous times, and solemn ones.

The years our daughters were teenagers were definitely challenging—and full of glorious moments of play and adventure. They turned out okay—as in “The Kids Are Alright” okay.

Oh, and did I mention how different were our approaches to child rearing! And, money!

We have shaped each other irrevocably. Irredeemably. Irreparably. It is an amazing thing that 39 years together does to one. I would not be me without him—that feels trite, and it’s true. How much I have learned from him—and, he from me, in 39 years!

We laugh now about things that made us scream when they first appeared. How can that be?

I care less now about pretty dishes, and he washes them more often. I care more now about working pipes and wires, and he now pays people for work he insisted on doing himself before.

Thirty-nine years of playing house—and it feels more like play than it did before. I suppose it helps to have kids launched—one, HUGE pressure gone. Thirty-nine years….

And, I’m counting on their going on. And, on.

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