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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


In college I became friends with a foreign exchange student from Spain. Beatrice. I showed her around town, introduced her to my high school friends, translating for them occasionally. Though she was working on her English, sometimes it was hard for her to discern some of the more distinctly Southern accents. 

And I was really rusty on my Spanish, so it worked out perfectly. She didn't ever make fun of me when I messed up with subjunctive tense or had to sub in an English word. 

When she went back to Spain, we promised we'd keep in touch through letters. I was really excited by the prospect. I'd always kept a pen pal of some sort--I've always found letter writing romantic and meditative. Plus, Beatrice didn't have Facebook. It had just come out that previous year.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a letter in my mailbox just a few months after she left. When I sat down to write her back I became paralyzed with self doubt. Would she understand me? Should I get someone better at Spanish to read and proofread it? 

I decided to write the letter in English first and then translate it. So, I wrote the first version of the letter and set to work with my dictionary. After the first sentence I realized that maybe typing the first translation would be easier and then I could hand write it.

So, I began typing it and then realized that the first version of the letter was no longer accurate. I was no longer dating that one guy, and her crush actually wasn't in class with me anymore. So I rewrote the letter in English and then began translating that one when I wasn't studying for class, djing, visiting with family, going to concerts, enjoying lunch dates, running for president of student clubs, being collegiate.

It's probably easy to infer that I never sent any version of the letters. In fact, I recently found the first draft, mid-translation. Her address has no doubt changed by now, and I hardly remember any of our conversations or her last name.

I'm going to look for her on Facebook.

I did write it. But then what?