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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Paper Tickets

One time, during the pre-smart phone days of paper tickets, I left plane tickets to New York in front of the foyer mirror in my parents’ house. I realized I’d done this when I met my friend Jennifer at the Delta gate. My mom had just dropped me off and was on her way home. I called my dad who had already realized what I’d done. He gave me an earful about my forgetfulness and lack of responsibility before telling me that he would send my mom back to LAX with the tickets. There was a slight chance that my mom would be able to bring the tickets to me in time.

I should’ve waited for my mom outside at the curb but sometimes as a young person it doesn’t cross your mind to be considerate or sensible. I spent the hour feeling stupid and apologetic on the carpeted floor near the gate while Jennifer sat next to me trying not to show her frustration.

I saw my mom half-running and half-walking towards us. Her face was bunched up and red from the exertion. A new wave of guilt and shame washed over me but I still couldn’t help thinking that she was moving too slowly. I didn’t think about the fact that she had to run all the way from the car through the airport, and in Birkenstocks, no less. As we heard the final boarding announcement, Jennifer couldn’t help herself. She yelled, “Hurry!” My mom could barely speak, she was so out of breath. She handed me the ticket and Jennifer and I ran to the gate as my mom ran towards her car.

We didn’t make it onto our plane and had to wait several hours for the next available flight. My mom had left the car at the loading zone and, unsurprisingly, came back to a parking ticket. Jennifer and I had a grand ole time in the Big Apple but I still feel bad about what I put my mom through when I think about that trip.

The Adapter

I Forgot to Catch a Plane