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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Girl Boss

Julie isn't my boss. She never was. But she's been calling the shots since we were 5 years old.

I remember her giving me instructions on how to tie my shoes, on the rules of our make-believe restaurant, on which houses to skip when trick-or-treating. She picked the outfit for Twins Day every year. When I hugged Royce Ring on the playground it was Julie who insisted we had to get married, and Julie who arranged our first-grade shotgun wedding. It was Julie who sent a cowering Andy Stine into the boys room to fetch the reluctant groom. If there had been a shotgun, she would have been holding it.

She was every parent's favorite ringleader when we were teenagers. She didn't drink, didn't date until our senior year, and even refused to ride in our friend's convertible. "That rolling death trap? I'm driving my Volvo, and we'll see who still has a head when we get there." Peer pressure couldn't touch her. She was the pressure.

When I finally branched out and started making choices without her, it was hard on both of us. She made no effort to hide her disappointment when I'd spend a Saturday night with a harder-partying crowd and showed zero sympathy for a hangover. I dated plenty of unsuitable boys and Julie always let me know what she thought of them. She said out loud, to my face, all the things our friends were thinking. They were usually right, but I had to learn that on my own every damn time. And every damn time, Julie was there trying to save me from my own bad behavior.

As an adult, she's softened a little. She'll call to say "I have to drive right past you on my way to that party. I'm picking you up." It brokers no discussion, but it's a kindness. She's more articulate her deep loyalty to her friends and her family, and is gentler with the harder truths as we navigate the lives we couldn't have imagined in kindergarten.

One of the great joys of this old friendship is seeing my husband interact with Julie. He teases her about her stubbornness and her blunt honesty, but she teases back, and they can talk frankly about anything. When he made a snarky comment about her "adorable" pink glitter phone case, she looked him right in the eye. "I realize you're making fun, but I love it. I reject your judgement and replace it with my own. It is, in fact, adorable."

She's such a boss.

Lead. Follow. Repeat.

The plan