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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Blue t-shirt

The summer between first and second grade, I had a favorite outfit. A navy blue patch-pocket t-shirt and a pair of denim shorts, off-white with navy and beige vertical stripes. I wore those clothes every day, pretending I was a boy without letting anyone knowing that that's what was on my mind.

I don't think I was gender conflicted. Rather, I was gender aware. I knew my days of running around the neighborhood playing "war" and climbing trees then going home covered with dirt and blood from skinned knees and elbows were numbered. My wings were about to be clipped. The new clothes my mom was buying for me reflected shifting expectations. I wanted nothing to do with them.

I don't remember much about that summer. I played with the neighborhood kids. Learned to ride a bike. But I distinctly remember wearing the same clothes day after day. Until one day, I couldn't find them. I searched the house from top to bottom. Gone.

Years later, looking at a picture of me from that summer, dressed in my favorite t-shirt and shorts, I asked my mom what happened to those clothes. No surprise, she readily volunteered that she'd ripped them up and thrown them in the trash. "They were rags. You looked god-awful."

I looked at the little girl in the picture, hair chopped short, feet in a chair on my grandmother's back porch. "You go, girl. Don't stop. Keep fighting. You are beautiful."

Norman Rockwell with booze added

They Still Scratch (Redux)