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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Hanging Clothes

When I left the hotel room, I was in a hurry. A blithering, bumbling hurry, pushing my suitcase and my computer case, balancing my tote bag and explaining all pumped up on adrenaline that my daughter was in labor with our first grandchild. “Be careful!” the cheery young clerks, young women still fresh and beautiful in the world, said. I smiled and rushed out of the doors, threw my bags in my car, and started on the four and a half hour drive to Atlanta.

I drove along a river, beside a cliff, into and out of and back into a thunderstorm. I drove past fields and mountains, and directly through a little town I’d always wanted to visit but there was no time to stop now, not today. Annabelle was coming! Hurry hurry hurry! the road and the trees seemed to whisper. Hurry hurry hurry!

When I arrived at their house, the kids were just leaving for the hospital, where we and the other grandparents and one of our other daughters would sleep curled like Cheetos on the oddly shaped chairs in the waiting room, waiting on the news, waiting to hear everyone is okay and the baby too. We tossed and turned and fidgeted with our magic entry badges with our pictures on them, pictures that would fade in 24 hours and would have to be renewed.

And finally the text came, and she was here, and she was the most beautiful little divinity anyone ever saw. Sarah was fine, the baby was here. The overwhelming relief flooded down like rain onto my cramped shoulders. My brain relaxed, let go of its worry and fret. And then I remembered: I’d left my hanging clothes in the hotel four and a half hours away. A week’s worth of hanging clothes, business casual at that.

I shrugged, texted a friend who would pick them up for me. Those hanging clothes meant nothing in the world to me. Nothing in the world. Once again, as had happened three times before when my own girls were born, my whole heart had funneled down to one tiny bundle who lay sleeping in my arms. And everything else was forgotten.

My Body - My Self

Bad Big Sister