There’s a scene in Toy Story 2 where this girl lets her toys get sad under her bed while she grows up. As time went on, she slowly forgot about her childhood. When I saw that scene, I swore that would never be me. But what if that is me? Here I am, twenty years old. Whether I like it or not, I spend more time now in my college dorm room than I do in my childhood room. We all have to grow up, after all.
I’ve been obsessed with Neverland ever since I was five years old and first watched Peter Pan on VHS. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a place where we never had to change or think about growing up? My bedroom was always that place for me, my Neverland. This is where I have the most stories, the most history. This is one of the few places I’ll be sad to leave when I move away one day.
Maybe the history of my family’s house wouldn’t be considered historically significant to historians or anything, but to me it was always a mystery worth uncovering. All I ever discovered, however, is that some people owned it before my parents did, and it was built in 1965. I don’t know who the previous owners were, so I made up little stories about them in my head. I was always convinced that they created a small secret room in one of the walls that didn’t add up, even after I discovered that it was just a space for the furnace.
I do know that my parents put a lot into remodeling our house, however. Right up to the day before I was born the construction people were still making finishing touches. My parents didn’t intend for us to still be living here, in their starter house. They also had different plans for its construction than what was actually constructed in the end. They told us it was supposed to have a second story and a deck out back. I could image how that would look, but it didn’t look like our house. This single-story deck-less place was our home.
I recently rewatched old home videos. There was the construction on film and then me and then my sister and then my brother. I want to know all of my parents’ stories of their childhoods and our childhoods. I’ve heard them so many times, but I’m afraid of forgetting. Pictures aren’t enough sometimes.
In my basement bedroom before it was remodeled there were parties there, when people who are in their fifties now were in their twenties. They drank and talked and laughed about life before I had life. There were people here before I existed. Maybe it’s the ghosts of those memories that I hear now in the cracking of the vents above me.
My bedroom didn’t even exist, in its remodeled state, until I was eight. My sister was four then, and even though she had had a room made for her, too, we shared mine to keep each other company. I chose to paint it light aquamarine, a color I’ve never stopped loving. There are memories there, in the walls. Secrets held there, like those splatters of the great black nail polish explosion of 2011, covered now with paper butterflies. Pictures, too, that I’ve drawn or printed out are on display, covering white patches from old sticky tack that took the paint with it or furniture that left deep scars. Tears cried in the carpet, though those didn’t leave stains.
When I’m in my room there’s almost always music playing. Even though I’m an introvert, I’ve never been a fan of total silence. It’s unfortunate, though, that my CD collection is only representative of my twelve-year-old music taste, which was before I discovered the good stuff. During that early teen transitional phase I made a lot of mix tapes from songs I recorded off the radio. Once in a while I’ll listen to them again, and the music takes me back.
Sometimes I’ll smell supper wafting down through the vent, along with the cold basement air. The best time of day with my west-facing window is late afternoon, when the light shines in at just the right angle. I have a nice view of the woods and the river and golden sunsets through that glass. Stars, too, and the moon at night. For when it’s cloudy, there’s a glow-in-the-dark sky on my ceiling.
I never considered myself a homebody, and I still don’t, but I used to want to get as far away as possible. When I was thirteen I researched apartments in Los Angeles. I wanted to run away from home. Felt trapped in a fish bowl, I remember writing. But it wasn’t our house, it was our small town and all of the people in it. I’m always craving change.
My room has gone through many changes, too, remodels of its own, on the walls. All of my different phases brought new decorations. It was tropical themed at one point, with palm tree pictures from calendar pages and flower leis hanging from the ceiling. Then models from Vogue and celebrities covered the walls. Then all celebrities were gone, replaced with stars and butterflies. Now I have a mixture of everything, really, as I am I mixture of all of my previous selves and phases. Constantly growing and adding, like Virginia Woolf said in Orlando, “these selves of which we are built up, one on top of the other, as plates are piled on a waiter’s hand, have attachments elsewhere, sympathies, little constitutions and rights of their own.” The bookshelf that I made in high school wood shop class isn’t big enough to hold all of the books I’ve found at book sales, and so my collection overflows into my closet.
Soft afternoon light shines in and hits that blue sequin purse that holds all of the flash drives with all of my memories, the first thing I would grab in a disaster. When there was a storm one night I was worried that a tornado might blow our house over. But my dad said if that happened, we would just build a new one. I understand now that this room will one day not be mine anymore. But no matter where life may take me, this is home. This is my place.