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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Daddy Built Houses

So the story goes: “Your daddy built you that playhouse. And, you loved it.”

It seems he built her a playhouse too—my mother. My first house was a converted garage—they rented out the real house at the front of the property. They bought it all—all 6000 square feet of land in the tiny company town—with the GI Bill and the Cal-Vet loan that my mother qualified for after being a WAC in WWII.

But that house of hers: It was a converted garage. It had four rooms—a tiny kitchen with a window over the sink that faced into the yard and onto my playhouse; a sitting room, a tiny bedroom, and an airplane-sized bathroom.

I remember playing under the kitchen table, and feeling so snug there, while my mother stood at the sink. I remember staring at her legs, and the sway of her skirt, as plates clinked against the edge of the sink.

My own house, the playhouse, had running water. I don’t know how. Now that “fact” defies explanation. I can’t imagine that we had the financial wherewithal to plumb a playhouse. Yet, that recollection is vivid and sure.

Running water for a three-year-old and 300 square feet of living space for her 37-year-old mother were the good life then.

I Knew Her! And, Not.

Moving Pictures