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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


I needed to see my mother anyway, so why not go the weekend of my high school reunion, at least that was my thinking a month before my trip to Wichita. As the date approached, I began to realize that my best friends weren't coming. In fact, my better friends wouldn't be there either. I started to worry I wouldn't recognize folks. Surely they'd have name tags. Forty years is a long time.

I arrived at the museum feeling like I was walking on eggshells. I'd had great fun in high school, class officer, a yearbook editor, boys swim team manager, prom queen. But I left town and never looked back, losing touch with nearly everyone.

I didn't recognize the women at the sign in until they introduced themselves. Shit. One of them had been a good friend who'd also been my freshman college roommate. She'd gone off the deep end, stalking her old boyfriend and slashing his tires before leaving mid-semester. The ice hung in the air between us. Wish I could remember how I handled that. Not well, I'm guessing.

I arrived just in time for the dinner -- dried out slices of chicken breast, mashed potatoes and gravy and mushy green beans. Who serves this shit any more? Even the institutional apple pie was inedible.

Thank god there was a seat next to one of my high school boyfriend's best friends, we had some fun times. He works at a Silicon Valley tech company, unusual for this crowd. The boyfriend had gone on to make a fortune in pharmaceuticals and now lives in Paris. A no-show for the reunion.

The bitching started before I sat down. The bad blood between the two most successful people in my class boiled down to who had made more money. Number two, here, was bitter. I wanted to defend the old boyfriend, but then I'd have to find someone else to talk with. Looking around the room, I started to panic. I didn't recognize anyone. After a while I mumbled something about the many years, two kids, a husband, a life..."it would be a little weird if I'd kept in touch."

Ah, the bad girls! They would be fun to talk with. They'd all done well in Wichita, professionals, entrepreneurs with small businesses. They literally turned their backs when I approached. Oops. Flashback to the righteous little bitch I'd been, a SNL Church Lady in the making. Throwing down a credential I thought might break the ice, I said live in Los Angeles now. They literally levitated across the room.

I went to the bar and choked down a glass of purple grape juice masquerading as wine. Jesus, I missed my old boyfriend.

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