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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Double Arches

Anywhere from 33 to 58 million years ago in the Eocene epoch, much of SW Wyoming was under an enormous body of water, Lake Goisuite. A geologic formation now known as the Green River Basin recorded what happened in the submerged region at that time. The striations in the hills and rocks that surround Rock Springs, Wyoming’s 4th largest city, were in view in 1979, as I looked through the glass dining room windows of McDonald’s. I didn’t know the landscape had formed millions of years before, or that the alternating colors in the layers of rock resulted from the many years of alternating green, fertile and dusty, dry seasons millions of years before. I did know that it was my birthday—October 10th, 38 years ago, and that I would start working that very night. I had quit working at neighboring Baskin Robbins the day before because I was turning 14, and I could start earning $4.00 an hour—not bad for a teenager—rather than $2.35. I waited anxiously for my boss to bring me my first pair of uniforms that I would wear 24-30 hours a week for the next few years.

Upward mobility was an early obsession of mine. Having a job meant freedom to buy things, and I was a passionate consumer. Clothes, shoes, records, cassettes, ski gear, food—it would all be mine, mine, mine. That I had to wear blue polyester pants with coordinating striped double-arched emblazoned shirts with metal buttons that burned when I had to work fries all day Saturday was a small price to pay. The uniforms, supposedly laundered, smelled of onions. Not the desiccated and then re-hydrated onions that came on a small hamburger, no, they smelled of the real, raw onions that topped a Quarter Pounder. No amount of laundry detergent in the world could destroy that smell. We lived, breathed, took orders, cleaned counters, mopped floors, restocked cups, and tried to upsell for 8 hours a shift in those itchy uniforms, surrounded by a cloud of human body odor and onions. Were the hills and rocks of the Green River Basin recording this? Only time will tell.

Music is My Life!

Navy Blue Suits