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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

I Forgot to Catch a Plane

My cousin was getting married in Sacramento. My mom and I arranged that I would fly into Oakland and then she'd pick me up, I'd go to her house to get dressed and we'd drive together to Sacramento. Except that I forgot to board the plane. I was sitting just outside the boarding area, waiting to embark. But I got so engrossed in a book I was reading -- for a graduate course I was taking in labor history about a shoe factory in Massachusetts -- that I never boarded. Completely missed the multiple announcements. Completely ignored my fellow travelers as they began to line up. Completely oblivious to the entire boarding process. When I finally looked up, everyone was gone. I tucked my book into my bag and approached the desk. Yep, I'd missed the flight, despite sitting right there the whole time. I felt so stupid. The crew helped me figure out that there was a flight leaving for Sacramento that if I rushed across the airport,I could catch. But first, I had to call my mom from a pay phone (this was before cell phones) and explain what happened. I believe she chortled, but there wasn't much time for anything else. If she met me at the Sacto airport, we'd have just enough time for me to dress before we drove to the church. My heart pounded as I scrambled across the airport. I could only imagine the stories the family would share if I missed this flight too. "Where's Annie?" I pictured my perfectly coiffed aunt asking her sister (my mom, who was known in the family as "Gypsy Sally" because she was kind of a hippie). "She missed her flight?" "Did she get caught in traffic? I hear L.A. has terrible traffic." "Um,no." I somehow doubt my mom would have offered up the truth THAT I WAS READING A BOOK ABOUT WORKING CONDITIONS FOR WOMEN AT A TURN-OF-THE-20TH-CENTURY SHOE FACTORY that was so enthralling that I missed my flight. Oh, lord. The humiliation! So I dashed like O.J. in a Hertz commercial, and barely made the flight. My mom picked me up at the airport, and we drove to a Denny's. My younger brother and step-dad were in the car...smirking. "That must be some book!" my step dad said when I confessed. "Um, yeah," I replied, not wanting to reveal the hefty book's topic. I had already had a reputation of being a nerd. I knew that my dad would tell his girlfriends that I was uptight and "preppy," so I could only imagine the stories my mom must have shared about me to her husband. "She'd lock herself in her room for hours. I'd find multiple books piled next to her bed. I would go into her room on school mornings and she'd be sitting on the floor, one sock half-on, her nose in a book!" Ugh. We got to the church on time. My hair was unbrushed, but we made it.

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Not Forgotten