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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

365 + 2

There's the detritus you forget — keys, wallets, watches, pens, minor appointments — and then there's the life stuff you forget: formative moments, first introductions, dates of import.

I've never had much trouble with the fleeting stuff, and I'm fairly good with remembering the key associations of interactions. Particular dates, the numbers themselves, have always been elusive, though.

So while I've never actually failed to remember L's birthday, or our self-selected anniversary, when asked about those key dates in almost any other context, I'll muddle them. And it kills me.

I want to be the Good Boyfriend and be able to recall the calendar touchstones in our relationship, to have that mental countdown of shared expectation and happiness that goes with celebration of the you and the us.

About 70% of the time I can nail it. But it's that elusive 30% that makes me anxious — always.

There was a time when someone in the family — I'm not sure if it was hers or mine — was noting all the big dates on the horizon between fall and the end of the year. They said something like, "And, of course, you can't forget those big dates for the two of you, right?"

Crunch time, and I try to go with the "of course..." part of the conversation and trot out the exact dates. I'm connected. I know these. They're there in my brain.

Nope. Somehow I managed to jumble the dates and the months. I had the right numbers, just not in the proper months. And I knew I was wrong as soon as I said them.

I tried to explain the error, with L looking straight at me. The birthday is two weeks before Christmas 0n the 25th, but the anniversary is on the 20th, just before Thanksgiving, and my brother's birthday is on the 25th of November. Throw in a grandmother's birthday in December and there's just enough jumbling of dates to make for awkward off-the-cuff recollection. But the explanation doesn't diminish the moment. It hurts. It's a benchmark that says something isn't in sync.

Being an order moppet, I am, however, of the tribe that calendars everything (thank you, Apple and Google) and creates countdown reminders well ahead of the actual occasions, so I've never missed the celebration dates.

But I always get that escalation of anxiousness a month or so ahead of when I know the occasion is looming. I check, and double check, the calendar notations.

I want to have those two particular dates always in mind, for L.

11/20, 12/16.

They matter.

I wanted to tell you...

The lottery ticket