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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Oh, The Places You Will Go

Geographically, the farthest place I’ve been is Switzerland. I was surprised that Luzern didn’t feel as culturally different as I had expected. Tourism is one of Switzerland’s top industries so they go out of their way to minimize the culture shock. They don’t snootily refuse to speak English for us bilingually challenged Americans (looking at you, Paris). Where I experienced a bit of culture rigidity was their punctuality, and I’m a punctual person. If the train, bus, or boat leaves at 9:05; it leaves at 9:05. It’s leaving almost at the same time it’s arriving. You don’t dilly dally.

Mentally, I have been in a parallel universe. I was so immersed in it that I didn’t even notice. The last week of my first husband’s life was consumed with trying to keep him at home and comfortable. It was an all day and all night task. Friends and family came from all over to help. When I had to go sign his retirement papers, I realized that I hadn’t been out of the house in a while.

I was waiting for the paperwork, looking out a second story window at Samford Park across the street on campus. It was an absolutely gorgeous spring day. Mother Nature was really showing off. A young woman was walking her baby carriage in the park—just a most the normal thing in the world. I was shocked to realize that people were going on with their regular lives. Their worlds were not caving in on them. I was in a different—parallel—universe.

My husband died later that afternoon. The new place I got to go then was widowhood. It’s a different mental and cultural place, as well. I didn’t want to go there.

Not in Kansas

Loving Kindness