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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Alone Again

My first childhood bedroom was a shadowy place — I remember being trapped in a crib and watching my mother out in the hallway. The walls were pale green. Later, I had a bed on the other side of the room where I slept fitfully. I remember waking up once late at night and drowsily vomiting, only to fall back asleep. My mother was annoyed the next morning — the bile had sunk into the bedding. I don’t think I chose anything in that room. I had a desk against the window and would stare into the vast backyard, wondering what life was like beyond the fence.

After we moved, I got a room with plush carpeting. I wanted pink but my parents decided it should be red. My brother had gold plush carpet and the youngest brother’s carpet was blue. I did choose the light fixture, it was frosted white glass — it reminded me of a cracked marble, and it hung from a white chain. For my 10th birthday, I got a bedroom suite from Sears — ivory French provincial furniture with a double canopy bed. The bedding was of frothy white sheers that had embroidered flowers - white on white. It had a purity that I did not feel — inside I felt a hard, angry lump of grievance that I dared not show. I had a small brass chair with a red velvet cushion — I loved that chair. I don’t think I got rid of it until I was 30.

Most of the time I felt lonely in that room — I felt lonely most of my childhood. My family was in one world of social currency and busyness, and I inhabited another — a world of reading, books, imagination. I used to love the times when they would all leave and I could have the house to myself. I would put on a record of The Music Man or South Pacific, acting all the parts, singing all the songs, and feeling for a moment, that there was something more in the world.

Peacocks Are Great on a Monday

Circus Wallpaper