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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

The Cosmic No

I could have organized somebody else’s wedding, no problem.

But the months kept passing and I didn’t do it. Or I kept making decisions that meant it wasn’t fixed: we’ll do it in the building we just renovated, no venue to book, nothing to wholly commit to. In lieu of a shower, I asked my friends to come scrape old wallpaper off the downstairs walls in the room where I said the reception would be. Ultimately, my mother flew down, took me shopping, and bought me a big white dress. My prospective mother- and sister-in-law booked a tea for me, for us, at an antebellum house in town that seemed appropriately ceremonial to them. I did not know what an engagement tea entailed, and I never found out. Meanwhile, I did nothing.

Is anyone prepared to get married? They figure it out on the job, as it were. Maybe we would have learned the things we needed to learn, maybe it would have worked out fine. But I believe I was truly, fundamentally not ready, and despite all the social forces telling me it was the right thing to do, some deeper and more intrinsic force had me paralyzed, and prevented me from doing it. A few times in my life this has happened to me; in my mental shorthand, I refer to it as "the cosmic no," an opaque, bodily veto that I believe it is dangerous to ignore, even if it takes a long time to understand.

I have a soft spot for Dorothy Sayers and the romance she wove into her detective stories, between her sleuthing hero Lord Peter Wimsey and the presumably self-projected, very sensible Oxford-educated writer of detective stories, Harriet Vane, who he pursues over the course of three investigations. Harriet's objections to Peter make perfect sense to me: she doesn't want to be subsumed. She feels like she can either be herself, a self-sufficient novelist and an educated woman, or she can be Lord Peter Wimsey's wife and be fabulously wealthy but essentially disappear. It's very thrilling to watch Harriet become convinced that a balanced relationship between intellectually well-matched people can exist, if only in fiction -- that she can fall in love with Peter and keep her sense of self and personal possibility as well.

By the time they are on their honeymoon (and simultaneously solving a murder) it's impossible not to root for them, as they work out how they'll be bound to each other in intimacy without either one having to lose what makes them who they are, what animates them, what made them compelling as a person in the first place.

I think that's what my body was dreaming of, when I got in my own way, when I couldn't do what I said I'd do.

Stumped by "Promise"

Golden Crosses