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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Blue jeans

More than I disliked the hand-me-downs. More than I disliked the clunky sensible shoes. More than I disliked the little veils and hats that we had to wear in church, I disliked blue jeans. When I was in elementary school in the 1950s, the blue jeans my mother required us to wear to school, under our skirts, were not stylish. They had elastic waists and loose legs, and only one purpose – to keep us warm in the Michigan below-zero winters. No other girls at school had to wear them because in the winter they either wore pants to school, or snow pants over their skirts. 

Blue jeans didn’t become the thing to wear in the Midwest until I was out of college in 1967. By that time, I had settled on a fashion goal of either being chic, or being a Beatnik. Beatniks wore tight black pants, or black tights. Chic women wore stylish pants. I don’t remember now what they were, but not blue jeans.

I finally bought a pair of jeans when I was 30 and living in Alaska, but still wore cords or khakis at least as often as jeans. I was pleased, however, when I gave birth to my first child at age 37, and could wear my tight jeans ten days after the baby arrived.

Jeans always seemed to me to be either work pants for the garden, or a costume. I still own a pair - tight, a medium blue, no holes in them but ever so slightly frayed at the bottom edges – that I wear for barbecues, or those peculiar parties where the most appropriate dress is a pair of jeans with a dark velvet jacket. They represent a world in which I was never entirely at home – too many memories, perhaps, of those original jeans.

elevated to art
still blue jeans

Linen love