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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

All Grown Up

The three of us got to the dorm room fairly early on move-in day. It wasn’t a bad room, really, big windows, high ceiling, two desks, two beds, two closets. We spent a few minutes looking and decided W would be happy on the left side. It looked airier somehow. We spent a couple of hours unloading the car and unpacking his boxes of stuff and getting his side of the room set up. Made the bed with the new extra-long twin sheets and hung up his clothes. We were working on getting the printer plugged in when his new roommate and parents breezed in.

The mother was dressed in a lime green silk pants suit, capri pants with a long blouse cinched in with a matching sash at the waist, and an elaborate colorful necklace to cap it off. It seemed an odd outfit for a college moving day. We were all clad in jeans and sweatshirts and running shoes, ready to haul boxes up and down the stairs and climb around storing things away. She was very small but took up a lot of room.

Her first words, “The feng shui is ALL wrong!” The three of us averted our eyes, trying not to look at one another. She was stomping around, miffed that we had beat them to what she considered the better half of the room.

I tried to console her by saying that all the furniture was moveable and they could change things around any way they liked over the next week as they settled in. It reminded me of the toddler days, attempting to calm my kids from the edge of tantrums in the supermarket as they would plead for treats on every aisle.

She asked my son where he came from and he told her, L.A.

“Oh! Aren’t you GLAD to get out of there?!! Well, no. He was feeling a little worried about his first time away from home.

Then she started prancing around the room like a 4 year old, singing, “Northern California’s better! Northern California’s better!”

We were astounded, and I tried very hard not to look at my sons because I knew I would burst out laughing. Finally my older son said, “Uh, Mom, don’t we have to meet Marnie for lunch?”. A good save, albeit a complete fabrication.

“Oh, right. We better be going. It was nice meeting you. Bye.”

They were a horrible match as roommates. W couldn’t wait to be done with him at year’s end. We later found a brochure for the mother’s business. Snake Yoga. The photos showed her in a variety of positions with a large snake coiled around her neck. Astounding.

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