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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Half-Assed Honeymoon

I almost got a super dumb tattoo—on my scalp. I almost had what would have surely been a fatal car accident—falling asleep at the wheel leaving Burning Man. Some of my near misses turned out to be wins, dodging a bullet, if you will. Of course there were also a couple air balls that may have changed the course of my personal history for the worse. One such:

I almost traveled for an entire year with my ex-husband on our extended honeymoon—but September 11th happened four days before our wedding so we postponed it…which turned out to be indefinitely. Justin and I ended up rained out-camping in Big Sur in the back of his pickup truck, bickering because I thought he had packed the pots and pans and he thought I did. Instead we ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and tried to cultivate personal space by chain reading our respective novels. We definitely didn’t coo at each other or incessantly bang like we were supposed to, the way I imagined other newlyweds did on their honeymoon. It was not even one week into our marriage but familiarity was already breeding contempt. To escape the relentless rain we drove south to sunny southern California. More precisely, to his parents house. We still wanted to travel and didn’t want to waste our modest honeymoon fund, hefty in the developing world but laughable in coastal California, on hotels. Well, hell. Strike 2. Even his younger sister asked me to my face, “Isn’t this pretty lame for you to be hanging out with your in-laws on your honeymoon?”

We had no plan B for our life together outside our epic nomadic travel fantasy, but we both agreed that it was prudent to let the world settle down a little while before leaving the country longterm. So Justin and I ended up moving into the garage—the GARAGE—of a five bedroom house where a bunch of my friends lived in downtown Santa Cruz. On the positive side, you could sleep great in there because it was pitch black 24 hours a day: zero natural light. On the negative side, it was pitch black 24 hours a day: zero natural light. It was right off the kitchen that we shared with a half dozen housemates. It was freezing, noisy, and very makeshift. The half bathroom where we got ready for bed together and started our day was always out of toilet paper and had a stinky kitty litter box in it. Garage life! Even by the light of Justin’s blue and red Lava Lamps, it felt about as unromantic a start as a marriage could get.

We never ended up taking our trip together. We spent the money a little bit at a time living meagerly, and then we used all that was left on the down payment for a condo. Under our new mortgage and accompanying jobs to finance it, our passports grew dusty. Ask Langston Hughes: What happens to a dream deferred? Travel was one of the most essential things we valued. We spoke of it reverently in our vows, with the support of all those present. It was one of many vows we ultimately broke. What if it had happened differently? Years later, we asked each other this question with curiosity, not animosity. And then we divorced.

Know Your Limits

Dad's Father