The first bedroom I remember as a child was painted blue (my choice) and had Pac Man wall paper, which was totally cool until I was so sleep deprived that I thought the ghosts were trying to get me! I hated to sleep as a kid so I would stay up far too late reading to myself in bed.
Then there were various shared rooms – one in a women’s shelter, in apartments – my mother’s boyfriend’s sister’s place and finally in my aunt’s house where I slept in a twin bed with my 20-something cousin who slept in her own identical one.
The one room that was mine the longest, never really felt like mine. When my father married my step-mother and we moved into her house, she had my room decorated. It wasn’t decorated for an 11 year-old unfortunately. I had cream coloured furniture with gold trim and a big double bed all to myself for the first time in my life! At first I thought it was great. The problem with that room, with that house, is that it never in the 8+ years that I lived in it, felt like it belonged to me.
There were no posters on the wall – my New Kids on the Block poster was relegated to the floor in the closet. There were doilies on the dressers with horrible silk flowers on them that I had to dust every week.
It never really looked like a pre-teen then teenage girl lived there.
Because my life in that room, always felt like a secret, like I was hidden away, I had so many places where things were stashed. I often hid food, mostly cookies in one cupboard behind my toiletries. More scandalous things were hidden inside a stuffed whale I’d made in home economics class. And the one thing I didn’t hide well enough was a notebook that my best friend and I used to write in. I detailed sex with my boyfriend and my step-brother stole it from its hiding place and later my parents found it – not good.
When I think about that room I don’t have fond memories. Yes, it was the room I lost my virginity in. Yes, it was a nice room – clean, full of nice new furniture bought just for me (my step-mother never let me forget that fact), but it was never really mine. I never really felt like I occupied that space, like it belonged to me.
Instead, when I think it about it I remember how much I hated the wall paper and the damn flowery comforters. I think about the morning I woke up to find my pyromaniac step-brother lighting matches and throwing them at the foot of my bed while I slept. I think about the time my father dragged me from bed because I didn’t want to get up to go to church on Mothers’ Day and beat me so hard I had a visible hand-print on my thigh. I think about the year that there was a suitcase sitting in my room, my father had placed it there telling me I could leave whenever I wanted to. I was 16, I believe. When I think about that room I think about running razor blades over my wrists and wishing I had the courage to end it.
When I think about that room, I am thankful I finally got out and room a room of my own.