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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Room of Liminality

I had two bedrooms when I was a child. The first, from when I was around 3 to 8 years of age, I shared with my brother. We had twin beds, read with flashlights, and I went into his bed for comfort (he was two years older than me) when my parents started screaming at each other late in the night. I don’t remember much about its furnishings. It was cozy.
My engineer father (who’d done a bit of construction) decided when I was approximately 8 years old to expand and renovate our ‘40s house in a modest neighborhood in the town of San Gabriel. So, by himself, during his evenings and weekends, with only occasional help, he built on to the original structure, so that eventually my brother and I both had reasonably spacious new rooms. The weird part of the bargain was that those rooms, and a never-plumbed bathroom, and an enormous family room, were never finished the entire time we lived in that house—he finally paid someone to do it when I was 16 so that they could sell the house before our move to Irvine.
Meanwhile, this “new wing” got the drywall, and we threw carpet over the plywood floors, and they even had electrical heating in the walls—but basically, we lived in a semi-finished house. I reflect only occasionally on the deep symbolism of this, and how it affected my psyche even to this day.
But as for my room itself—it was my own, it was a ways from my parents, so I could not complain. It had large windows across its width, and a dresser, and mirrored closet doors, and a double bed, and blessedly, a phone later—a mustard yellow princess phone with a very long cord. O, and a small black and white TV upon which I watched many a MASH and Love, American style and Gilligan’s Island and I Love Lucy and Mary Tyler Moore Show and Happy Days the Brady Bunch and the Partridge Family and Love Boat. And Father Knows best. During which I dreamed of somehow acquiring a father half as kind and wise and, well, present as the character Robert Young played. I wanted to be his “Princess” of a daughter.
In my room I chatted with girlfriends (almost never boys) on my phone and listened to my radio and record player, and schemed and dreamed and prayed I would outgrow buckteeth and frizzy hair and someday make some sort of exciting impression on someone. I felt full of longing and promise and confusion and in-between-ness.


The Bogeyman