There are things in that paper which nobody knows but me…

Moving back home at 27 was not something I anticipated, but my father could no longer care for my mother alone.

For the most part my parent’s house remained unchanged since I finished high school. By the time I graduated college, the last of the orange shag, the pizza carpet, disappeared. The house remained unchanged with one notable exception, but I had seen it. I knew what to expect.

I paused in the doorway, a sharp inhale before flipping the switch.

My childhood room had embodied the 70s and then the 80s. It started out a cheery bordering on nauseating shade of yellow called top banana. The hanging lamp in the corner’s orange gingham shade always dimly lit my play table, the wattage far too low. The white dotted-swiss curtains tied back with yellow bows blocked the view of the bars on the window. It was happy. It was sunny. It was childhood.

The room reeked of their stale cigarette smoke with a light dusting of my failure.

My mom decided to change things up when I entered junior high. The yellow paint gave way to cream wall paper with peach flowers. The only paper we could agree on the went with the orange shag. The quilt my mom made was amazingly late 80s. Abstract slashes, splashes and dots in peach and yellow on a dusty sage green. The curtains remained the same, but the ties took on the abstract theme. The hanging lamp was taken down, the ceiling patched. A last vestige of girlhood removed. It was frilly. It was not me. It was pre-teen.

I crossed the room to sit on the bed, dropping the last of my bags on the way.

My tastes changed as I entered high school, but there was no money for changes. I plastered the now insipid floral paper with Beatles posters and the usual clutter of a high school girl. The black poster with a single red rose had a special place on the back of the door. The memorabilia of a pre-teen gave way to shelves filled with literature with a capital L, both swoony and dark.  My biggest decorating regret as a literati teen was that I hadn’t thought to pick yellow wallpaper. It was chaos. It was cluttered. It was teenaged.

Looking up, I saw my face in the mirror. The same angle as my daily check in high school, but now with haggard eyes and an unfamiliar backdrop. Traversing the room aged me 5 years.

My mom hated every single embellishment I put on my teen walls and resented every push pin. Everything came down the day before I left for college, which was fine. But. But, the dust could have settled on my departure before the room was redone. My mom created her girlhood fantasy in purple and white. Rosebuds, peonies and vines. Lace, chenille and delicate gathers of cotton. All the things my mom dreamed of as a girl. dreamed of for her girls. She made up for lost time. It was soft. It was girly. It was no longer mine.

I sighed. It’s only one year.

I ran my hand down the smooth floral facade of the wall that connects my room to my sister’s former room. Rest my forehead against the purple flowers, knowing that on the other side lay a room essentially untouched. Sea-foam green walls now devoid of bulletin boards, pom-pons no longer resting on the shelf, but the rest remains the same save the bedspread. Her room left as a showpiece and mine smothered in flowers.

I stayed for four.


This post is my first post participating in The Red Dress Club’s memoir series.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Tags: , , ,

23 Responses to “There are things in that paper which nobody knows but me…”

  1. TMae says:

    How much do I love that Charlotte Perkins Gilman makes an appearance? Also, you’re awesome, and I’m looking forward to more posts like this.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Can you talk about oppressive wallpaper without CPG or is my lit nerd showing?

    [Reply]

  2. Veronica says:

    I love it. Can’t wait for part II

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

  3. Nichole says:

    Amy…

    This piece is just fabulous.

    I love the structure, the way that you bring us from past to present so delicately.

    Your descriptions are amazing, I could see it all before me.

    You have packed layers of meaning here that lend this piece to rereading and new understanding.

    To tell you that this is lovely doesn’t even begin to cover it.
    Truly.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Thanks Nichole. Your words mean so much. It is because of the kindness you show other bloggers that I got brave enough to take the red dress club plunge.

    [Reply]

  4. I love this post. It’s flawless how you go back and forth. Amazing writing!

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Thank you!

    [Reply]

  5. Suzanne says:

    Beautifully written Amy. You have talent.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Thank you. And thanks for understanding my need to do this, I will try not to disappoint or frustrate.

    [Reply]

  6. Leighann says:

    I know this carpet.
    This carpet filled my childhood livingroom.
    I also returned home to live for a bit but my room was and still is left in tact where my brothers is changed.
    Reading the other side of the story is hard.

    [Reply]

  7. Jessica says:

    Flawlessly done, the beautiful layers of emotion and description in this piece are amazing. This is my first time visiting and I’m heading back up to the top to subscribe, looking forward to many more beautiful reads from you. Such a great job.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Thank you. This is my first red dress club post, so I was a little nervous. Your kind words mean so much.

    [Reply]

  8. Natalie says:

    I told you before, but I will say it again.
    I love this. It has so much depth in so little words, and the flow is great.

    Thanks for sharing.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Thanks friend. Thanks for the read through, too.

    [Reply]

  9. Really interesting story, with all the different layer. I really liked how you structured his and I felt your sadness and confusion by your mother’s behavior.

    One small tiny thing: you have a typo where you mean to say “quilt” you say “quit.”

    [Reply]

    Cheryl @ Mommypants Reply:

    of course, now I have a typo. DOH! Different layers!

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Thanks for pointing out the typo! You know how you look at something for so long it loses all meaning? Yeah, that.

    [Reply]

  10. Leigh Ann says:

    I love how this is woven together, taking us through the past and back to the present seamlessly. I love the imagery of the room being smothered in flowers. Very well done.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Thank you so much. It is actually the past and the not so distant past.

    [Reply]

  11. I really love this piece. The back and forth between two different times is a refreshing take on the assignment.

    [Reply]

  12. I liked this:

    She made up for lost time. It was soft. It was girly. It was no longer mine.

    I felt like it really added a lot.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Thanks, that is actually one of my favorite lines.

    [Reply]

Leave a Reply



Grab my button!


button

Topics

Syndicated on BlogHer.com

I like to link up with:


Thirty Hand Made Days