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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

The Tennis Ball

I really wanted my room to be the color of the Wimbledon turf. That deep, lushish green that pops and says "I am bold and brave." I really wanted my comforter to be the color of a tennis ball - not quite neon, not quite highlighter, not at all an Easter yellow. And I really wanted it to have a queen-sized bed.

Well, my room wasn't the green of grass. Or even that of a green apple. It was more a pastel green. Soft and subtle.

And my comforter wasn't that of a fresh tennis ball straight out of a can. Or even that of a yellow light. It was more a pastel yellow. Gentle and unassuming.

But I was going to have my tennis room. First, I found lights, like the kind you hang during a summer night's party, except these lights were little orb tennis balls. And my poster above my desk? Roger Federer on his knees in joy on that pristine lawn after winning Wimbledon. And my trophies lined the top of my desk. And my signed Andy Roddick photo, from that time I nearly fainted while meeting him because I thought he was the one, he was who I would marry because he walked softly and carried a 155 mph serve. Yeah, his signature was framed next to my desk and in between two metal tennis ball hooks from Hobby Lobby that doubled as medal hangers.

Tennis was my life. I used to doodle about it constantly. I trained five days a week. I was meant to be a tennis player - even though, actually, I thought I would be a soccer star. My dad had other ideas. He wanted nothing to do with sitting out in every kind of weather to watch me play. When it rains in tennis, you can't step on the court because the lines get slick. He knew this. He also knew tennis could be a lifelong sport. So he used to bet me a can of Mountain Dew that I couldn't hit more serves in a row inbounds than he could. I never beat him. But the time he spent between those white painted lines with me taught me about discipline and sacrifice and triumphs and loss.

So naturally when we built our new home, I didn't think twice when I told my parents I wanted my bedroom to be the colors of the sport I loved.

I Was Clever Too

Penrice Avenue