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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Conditions for Traveling

The old fashioned window unit worked like a charm. A click, a pause, then a guttural hum was all it took to soothe me to sleep. You might say I’ve been conditioned to that noise, even now as an adult. It’s as if Pavlov were a hypnotist too, whispering “you are getting verrrry sleeepy” as it whirred. To this day, airplane travel turns me into an embarrassingly good sleeper. No matter how polished in a crisp suit with a well-intentioned seat mate, or no matter how eager I may be to follow along with the topographic sightseeing below, my eyelids get heavy and white noise makes my thoughts gauzy until everything goes black.

Maybe it’s not the hum of the engine. Maybe it’s the coolness, that slightly-too-cold chill of planes and meat lockers. My childhood bedroom window unit became a window, or a wardrobe door, to my own colorful, child-imagined Narnia travels. Deep sleep begot deeper dreams, tunneling into creations that seemed so sensible at the time, but twisted and other-worldly upon waking.

The carpet, too, was magic. It didn’t fly or soar above clouds as genies do. It grounded me in an evergreen jungle, the loose shag ensnaring Barbie and her eternally happy boyfriend as they waded through the jungle. Her plastic shoes, custom-curved for a life of tip-toeing, were lost to the world in the hungry rug, only to be found again by my mom’s barefoot feet in the middle of the night.

That rug was also a magnificent lawn for Barbie’s pink playhouse. It was the nation’s Mall. The miles-long Kansas corn fields. The Great Plains, as I was Laura Ingalls Wilder. It was where my brother’s racers in Hotwheels were no match for the motley gang of my perfectly-pedigreed plastic Breyer horses.

My childhood room is where I lived many lifetimes. That air conditioner above the tiny wooden bed, that green shag rug, and those four walls created a magical trap door for travel to any world.

My Childhood Bedroom

Pink and Green