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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

The cold and the warm of it

My childhood bedroom had the most God awful carpet you can possibly imagine. It was nubbly and a gloomy harvest gold color and was also very thin. The thinness was an issue for me because my room was also in a quasi-basement — the first floor of a house built into a hill — so the carpet was laid over a slab foundation of concrete and contributed to the room feeling cold and hard. Coincidentally, the carpet was chosen by my mother.

My mother chose it after asking me (I was six at the time) what I wanted and after vacillating between a checked red and blue and an orange shag she announced that I didn't know what I wanted and chose for me and my brother. She also chose the bright orange and yellow vinyl flooring in our bathroom, which I hated. She said she thought it would be cheerful, but she had never liked it either, and when we moved out she replaced it with something nicer and beige.

My father put up shelves in my room where I could house the innumerable stuffed animals I had. I also had a large closet where I could stuff piles and boxes of stuff. I never got rid of anything, but hid it all away. I was terrified of losing anything, which I now attribute to having moved 8 or 9 times by the time I was six. We were always throwing things away. For years my mother and I searched for a replacement for my Andy Doll, which my mother made me throw away when I was three and we left Hawaii. He was missing a leg and my mother figured there was no point in keeping him. My father was am amputee, which I think is why this bothered me so much, but I doubt the comparison crossed my mother's mind. I liked the fact that she felt bad about tossing the doll and kept helping me look for a replacement (we never found one) because it showed she believed in my sadness.

I had a great quilt on my bed with little girls in flowery dresses appliqued onto it. My grandmother made it for me. Much later I also got a little scroll front desk like the one my other grandmother had. I had always loved it. My mother was disappointed in my choice because she hated traditional furniture but she let me have it. She gave it away after I left home, which didn't bother me too much because by then I'd inherited the "original" desk my grandmother had.

Mostly I remember feeling cold in that room. It was always freezing. It did have an amazing view of water and trees, and it did have two doors. (My brother's room didn't have any doors except to the outside - it was really just an open part of the basement. When he was older he'd use the outside door to slip out and party all night without my parents knowing.)

What I loved about that room was the sound. You could always hear the water lapping on the shore, and at night, especially in the winter, I could snuggle down into the covers and listen to the water - wave after little wave breaking against the rocks. Like a lullaby, just like the sounds Winken and Blinken and Nod heard in the old poem. Especially around Christmas, it was perfect, and if the grown ups were awake upstairs you could hear them talking and laughing, and the floor would creak, and maybe the fire would pop, and sometimes if the heat was on too I would almost feel warm.

Ringer Tee

In My Room