Growing up, I lived in a bedroom my mother said she decorated ‘especially for me’.
The truth is that she decorated it for herself, but I didn’t know that at the time.
All I knew was that she loved the way the red furniture looked atop the plush, lime-green wall-to-wall carpet. She loved the way the floral bedspread matched the curtains, which matched the desk chair cushion, which matched the teddy bear that had been crafted out of the same material.
Unfortunately, it was a room that did not suit me.
While my friends had posters of rock stars tacked to their walls, or pictures of famous super-models or bulletin boards with pushpins, or shelves with trophies and ribbons, I had pink and green floral wallpaper that my mother selected for me before I was even born. For me, home was more like being in a hotel room: a place that you stayed temporarily.
“This house belongs to me and your mother,” my father explained. “One day you’ll have your own house which you can decorate however you’d like; until then, you go by your mother’s and my rules. And that means no holes in the walls.”
I remember complaining about these rules… and then being grounded for complaining.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I now realize I was being taught to submit, to ignore my needs to take care of the needs of others. My father always told me to listen to the little voice in my head, but the voice in my head contradicted the voice he heard. The voice I heard told me to challenge, to speak, to do things that other people told me were scary. The voice I heard told me to create, to organize, to decorate, to beautify in my way.
When my (now ex) husband and I separated in 2015, I wound up in an apartment. It’s not a bad place. I have plenty of square footage in which to roam about, a storage area in the basement, a garage in which to park my car at night. There are two elevators, one of which is often not working. The long hallways are painted in drab neutrals and feature crystal light fixtures and plenty of enormous mirrors. The carpets are worn. Fresh cut flowers sit in a decorative vase in the lobby. Various doormen help folks with their comings and goings.
But living here has not been good for me.
And I finally realized why.
For the last 24 months, I’ve been experiencing that same stifled feeling I used to feel when I lived at home with my parents as a teenager.
I can’t decorate the way I’d like to.
Can’t entertain the way I’d like to.
Can’t listen to my music at the decibel I’d like to.
(also, my neighbors know waaaaay too much about my comings and my goings)
For me, a home is not just four walls, a floor and a ceiling.
My home is an extension of my creative self.
It never occurred to me I would feel this way when I signed the lease two years ago.
While moving in, I watched the movers as they attempted to cram my beautiful leather couch through the door.
“Lady,” one guy said, wiping his brow. “This thing ain’t gonna fit.”
A few days later, I purchased an unattractive sofa and chair combo from the “scratch and dent” side of a local furniture store.
(because, you know, I wasn’t going to have it forever)
I made a lot of decisions that way.
Since then, I’ve acquired many temporary items.
Things that I wouldn’t want to bring into a real home.
Today I realized that the reason I’ve been doing this is because I haven’t been able to visualize myself staying in Rochester long-term.
When my son heads off to college in August, I have the opportunity to relocate and start over.
Or I can stay where I am and continue to build on what I’ve created for myself over the last 2 years.
I don’t know where I want to do this starting over – but I can see it, this home.
It’s bright, a single-story home with lots of natural sunlight. It’s clean and new and open. There are 3 bedrooms and two bathrooms. Wood floors. A space I can use as an art studio with white walls and shelving and easy access to a working sink. I can see the patio in the backyard, my little patch of grass.
I get panicky when I think about starting over all by myself somewhere far away from where I have spent the last 20 years of my life.
But I also know that wherever I go, I always meet new people – some of whom who become dear friends to me.
So I’m putting my desire out into the Universe.
Show me where you want me to go.
Bring the right people to guide me.
Help me to trust myself and others.
And let me live long enough to know what it feels like to be at home again.
Ever moved somewhere alone? How was that for you? What’s the worst thing about moving alone? What was the best thing?
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**NOTE: I’d like to thank my parents for taking & sending this photograph to me, knowing full-well that I was writing about my childhood bedroom. They are beyond generous and mostly understand that I have this strange need to write about it all.