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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Four across or three in the attic

In a family with 9 kids and 2 grandkids, sleeping arrangements are at times like a fun camping trip, at others, an ordeal. In the Baton Rouge heat, we were likely to move around in the night to find a cooler spot.

There was probably more order than I remember now, but each night seemed different; there was no given "room" for me. Some nights we slept 4 across in a bed, others, I'd be in a twin bed with a sister or niece, some nights it was me and my brother-2 years older- luxurious in a spacious queen bed on our own. "My own" was a thing when I was young. Not until New Bern,

In New Bern, for a fleeting moment, I had my own room. I chose-chose!-yellow paint; my mother found me a yellow bedspread w/matching pillow case things and yellow curtains. It was a big fucking deal. Except the rug. The rug was horrible, industrial blue. Blue-gray.
The rug said "You'll never have just what you want" and, even at 9, I heard the rug and I knew it was right. The yellow paint soon peeled and I knew that polyester was shitty material, anyway. The dresser? I wasn't sure what to do with it. I'd have a nervous breakdown trying to figure out how to organize my hand-me-down clothes and possessions. Some days it was shoved in randomly, others, my underwear was alphabetized by color.
I had a small orange record player that I used to play albums left behind by my older brother-Herman's Hermits, The Smothers Brothers, Tom Lehrer. I may have been the only 9-year-old in New Bern listening to Tom Lehrer, but I didn't let that stop me from enjoying it.
I had a Ouija Board- actually, I stole it from my brother. I'd use it in the closet to try to get the most accurate answers. I wanted to know there were better times ahead, that there would be a time I'd feel like things belonged to me and that I belonged. I never quite got there.

Then my grandparents moved in. I was too old to sleep with my brother, so I needed to move into the attic room with 2 of my older sisters. It was a loooong room that stretched half the length of the long house. My father built the room; it was never quite finished. I saw particle board and exposed wood that would make a 2016 hipster swoon. My sisters Jacey and Kathleen were in high school, 6 & 7 years older than me,and cool. The coolest. I was a straight-A nerd, and not cool, and I didn't belong there, but they never complained. Not in front of me, anyway. I slept-walked. I hated it when I went to bed and no one else was there, so I'd sleep-walk downstairs and stare at everyone and be told, "go to bed" and I would always say "No." Sometimes they would find me sitting at the top of the stairs. Alone in the attic was too alone for me, even asleep.

"Shag hides dirt."

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