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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


We remember so many things the way we’re supposed to most of the time that the law of probability necessitates that we *will* skip occasional beats. Forgetting stuff from time to time is normal, ordinary. But damn if normal human error doesn’t sometimes feel more like a bona fide defect.

Once in my travels I forgot to take my passport out of the hotel room safe. I just plain didn’t remember to remember, nothing dramatic about it. I drove stick shift for seven hours away from it across northern Spain, not realizing I didn’t have it until I rummaged in my bag for it at the next check in desk…in another province. The realization it was gone felt like ten emotions tumbling in together, the way flavors co-mingle in your mouth when you eat something complex. Panic. Panic. Confusion. Recall. Epiphany. Horror. Anguish. Deep, deep shame. Chagrin. Shit…SHIT!! I forgot my passport/I can’t believe I forgot my passport/I forgot my passport. Shit.

It ended fine, of course. I cried with my boyfriend about it like a crybaby because I kept thinking about the times my mom had been cruel to me in high school and called me “shit for brains” for way smaller infractions whereas Dave just smiled and squeezed me and was in every way her opposite: reassuring, kind, non-shaming. I got the passport back a day or two later, after tracking it down and eating a fat embarrassing wedge of humble pie over the phone. I learned the phrase, “I forgot…” (“Se me olvide”) which I, cinematically, still remember. I coughed up “asshole tax” for my mistake in the form of expensive, customized, secure delivery. Fine.

We were stranded in weird Santiago de Compostela until it arrived, where I tried not to kick myself or resent the place and its suddenly chilly weather. Accidents happen, and so does precipitation. There’s no fable ending here. I just forgot. And then I forgave myself for forgetting.

Righteous Spirit

The Adapter