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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Box of Letters

I don't really recall when they ended up in my possession, but the correspondence my parents sent to each other before they got married (and eventually divorced) are now mine. The other night I discovered them in an Adidas shoe box as I was reorganizing some old boxes. In the days before emails and texts, they cover the day-to-day and occasionally a deep thought or two. They span a period of time that my parents didn't live in the same towns. My mom was either finishing up school in Berkeley, or in Hawaii for a school semester or teaching in Patterson, a farming town in Central California. My dad was driving a cab in San Francisco despite graduating top in his journalism class at Berkeley. One night he picks up a former professor, who's so shocked that my dad is driving a cab that he immediately finds him a job...in Oroville, a conservative small town in Northern California. My dad will spend a year there and then return to marry my mom. In the meantime, much angst is expressed about how my mom is nervous that her father doesn't like my dad. I know that it was because my dad was Jewish. But that's never mentioned. Instead my mom pleads with my father over about seven pages to please, please "don't say anything clever" during Thanksgiving dinner. Perhaps my dad ignored her instructions because when they got married, my grandfather refused to attend their wedding. Because they lived so far apart -- and there were no cell phones -- urgent messages were sent via telegram and short non-urgent messages (such as confirmation of an arrival via Greyhound bus) were sent via postcard. My dad's letters are typed. My mom's are filled with her wispy cursive. The envelopes are also preserved, imprinted with elaborate logos from the newspaper where my father worked and the hotel where my mother lived in Hawaii. I haven't read them all ...yet. But it makes me wonder what will happen to my correspondence when I'm gone? And, I'm pretty sure no one will care about my emails. They don't feel as hefty and significant as actual letters. Still, will my kids be curious about my life? Will they wonder what I was thinking or if I was funny or insightful? Is that even necessary? Or healthy? Will it feel like a burden?

That Ring

Keepsake