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Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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Bedroom Time

Fair warning: If you usually come here for funny - well, first of all, bless you - and second of all, this ain't it.  I tried to write something with humor today, but this came out instead.

Have you ever wondered how your brain decides which memories to save from your childhood?

When we become adults, certain images from our early years drift to the top of our consciousness, while others are sifted into the depths like so much sediment, a forgotten foundation.

Sometimes it's obvious why we remember certain things, or why another memory might pass into obscurity.

But a lot of times one memory isn't necessarily more significant than another, and I'll never figure out how our minds decide which of these random trinkets to string together to form the picture we frame of our childhood.  Especially considering that it's a picture we look back on for the rest of our lives, often during times when we need the most strength.

I was lucky growing up; I only had one bedroom, in one house, in which we lived from the time I was three until long after I'd left for college.  I had a lot of years in that house, a lot of years to collect memories between the familiar walls of my room.

I remember the godawful green gingham wallpaper of my youth that made me dizzy with weird hallucinations.  These were the years when I had a thousand stuffed animals, each with its own name and back story.  I played with the dollhouse my mom built, the stairs distressed with a nail file to look like the family had been shuffling up and down those steps for generations.  I busied myself with my imagination until the aroma of dinner drew me into the kitchen to ask how much longer until it was time to eat.
Twenty more minutes.  Everything was always twenty minutes away back then - an eternity.
In this room I slept with the windows open, listening to the crickets chirp and the rustling leaves crescendo with each warm, gusty breeze.

A monster lived under my bed, and when I woke each morning I'd marvel at how, once again, my mom had managed to slip into my room and turn off the light without waking me.  Magic, no doubt.  As I got a little older, I no longer slept with the light on; that monster must've moved on to some other little girl's room.

That's when I graduated to the white canopy bed, which I think at the time I felt I was already a little too old for.  I got the purple color scheme I so desperately desired, made girlish by the tiny heart-shaped flowers in the wallpaper.  This was the room in which I taped my favorite songs off the radio and had sleep-overs with my friends.  My dad gave me a small black and white TV that sat on my dresser.  I talked on the phone until ridiculous hours of the night.

I wanted nothing more than to grow up back then.  In the winter, when it was too cold to leave the window open, I fell asleep listening to the hushed voices of my parents talking in the living room, their conversation reduced to a murmur punctuated by the occasional hiss of an "s" or a creak of the floor.

In my teen years, my mom let me pick out Real Grown Up furniture and paint the walls in a more "sophisticated" peach.  I pulled photos out of her albums without regard to history and taped them to my mirrored closet doors.  I studied hard, but the only time I opened my window was to exhale smoke from the cigarettes I'd gotten whoknowswhere, which I extinguished in a stale-smelling can I'd hidden on my desk.

For many of those years, my imagination created a world based on lies I told myself, one that seemed far more real than the one populated by fairies I'd imagined years ago.  The monsters came back, but they didn't live under the bed.   Instead, the space under my bed housed a box filled with letters I would never send, and loose blades that could dull the lies to a whisper when they became too overwhelming.

This time the monsters didn't wander off on their own.  I had to chase them for years, catch them, tame them, unlearn all their lies.

The parts I preserved, the syllables I picked from the words of monsters and determined were truth, were largely from those early childhood days.

I'm linked up today with Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop, responding to the prompt, "What do you remember most about your childhood bedroom?"   The more I wrote, the more I realized my answer wasn't just one thing - as a matter of fact, what I remember most wasn't even really there.  It was a feeling, an intangible safety net.  It was my mom's magic.  It was a cocoon spun from the wind outside my window.  It was love.  It was the knowledge that good things would happen if I could just hang on for twenty more minutes, even though sometimes that feels like forever.

Mama’s Losin’ It


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41 comments:

  1. Aww...I like when you get semi-serious. As for rooms, I had the same bedroom growing up and my mom still lives in the house (as do my books and some clothes I don't want to keep at my house.) I remember everything from playing "kitchen" and "library" with my dolls and changing my bulletin board with posters and swimming ribbons to hiding there during my parent's 10-year divorce and waking up hungover on my 21st birthday while my mom blasted the U of M fight song (she was so helpful.) The room holds a lot of memories, and although I'm glad I can go back (she's five miles away,) I'm also glad I have moved on.

    Great post;)

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    1. That's so well said - it's nice to revisit all those memories, but nicer still (and healthier) to move on. Wish I'd known you back then, though. :) Thanks for being here!

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  2. Lovely post. Yes it is strange what we remember and forget about anything. I have an old friend ---we were in college together over 40 years ago ---and when she reminds me of an incident from that time, she can tell me what I was wearing! How can she do that?

    I wrote about my bedroom (the one I used from the time I was about 3 to 7) for Mama Kat. You can find my poem here: http://proartz.blogspot.com/2012/08/butterfly-kisses-poetry.html

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    1. My college roommate was like that, and I don't know how she does it either... I wish I could believe that all the fashion information was hogging up space and made it hard for her to remember other stuff, but nope. Of course maybe she's just making it up, because heaven knows *I* don't remember what I was wearing!

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  3. Awe! This is awesome! I love it!

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    1. Thanks for your support - it was hard to publish, so I'm glad to hear it didn't scare *everybody* away. :)

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  4. "...loose blades that could dull the lies to a whisper when they became too overwhelming"

    Gosh that's some scary real shit. Or I could be reading too much into it. But either way, it is remarkable how our monsters change as we are growing up.

    Incidentally, aside from college, I never moved until I was 19 and moved out (and in with my first husband, but that's a whole other story), and all I ever wanted was to move. Just get the Hell out of Dodge...I can't even tell you how many times I would ask our parents if we could move off Long Island. I hated where we lived. Now, I wish we would STOP moving so I could let my kids put down some roots. I want them to have that ONE room where they build memories, like I did.

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    1. That's a perfect example of how our views (and monsters, and priorities) change as we get older. I only wish I'd actually known half the stuff I was so sure I knew back then - we never really figure out how wrong we were until later, eh? :)

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  5. And here I thought I was the only one who believed there was a monster under my bed! I remember sometimes taking a flying leap to land in my bed so the monster couldn't grab my feet :)

    I think life was so much easier back then, although at the time it certainly didn't seem that way.

    Great post Robyn!

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    1. Thanks a lot! Of course none of us still take the occasional flying leap into bed - not now that we're mature adults, right? Heh heh... Yeah, me niether.

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  6. It is rather funny what our mind remembers which then is molded into your brain forever. Growing up I had, well, still do, have a no-it-all sister, so I remember lots of fights and arguments, which there were tons of, but I have a hard time remember anything pleasant, especially from my teen years.

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    1. I mean know-it-all...half asleep here!

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    2. Sometimes what we can remember seems so random, doesn't it? And then once you're an adult - well, that's the material you're left with. Siblings do tend to murk it up even more sometimes, too, don't they? :/

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  7. This was so beautifully written. How wonderful as a teenager to have a space of your own that is comfortable and warm when at that age so much of the world seems the opposite. I like your serious side.

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    1. Thanks, lady! Yeah, I agree that having a safe space, no matter where it is, is incredibly important - at any age, really, but especially those tender years. :)

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  8. This is a great post. I too lived in the same house from the time I was 5 until I left for college. I loved that house and knew every square inch of it like only a kid could know. I have many memories of it and cherish them all. Well almost all of them.

    My parents don't live in it anymore but they still live somewhat close too it. I occasionally drive by it when visiting. Nowadays, when I see one of my kids playing in some random corner of our house I wonder (and hope) they'll have the same kind of memories.

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    1. Nice. That's how this post started, with me trying to draw a correlation between what I remember from my old room and wondering what my kids will remember. Of course when it started getting all weird and dark I deleted all the stuff about my kids. Because, you know - creepy.

      I've driven by my old house, too, and unfortunately the neighborhood has gone straight downhill. I wish this generation of kids knew it as I lived it - full of kids playing, running barefoot from yard to yard. I bet these kids don't even know how to play Red Rover. Amateurs.

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  9. This makes me just want to go back to my old room. I tried to write about this at first, too, but it kept evolving into something else. And mine sounded a lot more rambly then yours. There are so many emotions and memories caught up in those old bedrooms!

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    1. That's for sure. I struggled with trying to keep this post in line, but then just decided to let it run its course - still awfully rambly. ;)

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  10. I wish I'd known YOU back then, Baby. We could have started our good times a lot earlier in life. As you know, I loved the composition of this post, though I was a little uncomfortable with the private nature of some of it. Strange for people who pursue the things we pursue, but we are pretty much isolationists. I'm glad you went with it. Mew.

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    1. Thanks, babe, and thanks for being okay with me posting it, in spite of the private stuff. Also, I'm assuming you posted this using my profile accidentally - if I'm posting these comments to myself without remembering that I did it, I might need a fresh round of therapy.

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  11. Way to make me cry while I try to eat my lunch! Your last paragraph really got to me--the safety net feeling and your mom's magic. If I don't stop crying in 20 minutes, I'm going to find a puppy to kick.

    Well done.

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    1. Inspire angst-driven puppy kick - check. Man, I thought I'd never get that marked off my list.

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  12. When my kids ask when supper will be ready, I say "in just a minute". They don't buy it anymore. "Just a minute" take too long. Thanks for sharing. My room was my safe haven. I spent a lot of time there growing up. Shutting my door kept the monsters out.

    Over from Mama Kat's...

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by! I close my door now, too, but I try not to let the kid hear me call them monsters. ;)

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  13. Love your writing per usual, but I'm only allowing you to be serious once a month. End of story. You may apply for more times to be serious in a month, after a year has passed from this date. So says the humor police.

    Or the delusional lady who just wants. this. baby. out.

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    1. PREGNANT LADY HAS SPOKEN! I'm rarely terribly serious, least of all in print where people can refer back to it later and refresh their memories about how insane I am/was, so I can agree to your demands without any trouble.

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  14. Whether literal or figurative I think we all had a box of loose razors hiding somewhere. Beautifully written, kinda made me wanna give you a hug which is pretty out of character for me. So hey, you're redefining personalities with the power of your prose. Now stop it and be funny again, because I like my non-huggy self better ;)

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    1. You are just a t-shirt slogan writing machine! I need one that says "redefining personalities with the power of my prose," or maybe "I like my non-huggy self better." And I agree - more comedy, coming right up!

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  15. Wow what beautiful words. It's amazing how much of our childhood is spent wanting to grow up. And now all I want to do is recapture my youth. The energy, the naps, the me time, oh I miss it!

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    1. Me too! I keep trying to tell my kids that, but they don't listen any better than I did at that age. Thanks for being here!

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  16. I loved this...and the monsters lived in my closet. I can see them now. And you had a canopy bed? I dreamed of one. This was great.

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    1. Thank you very much. I'd love to get my daughter a canopy bed - every little girl should have one. It's not too late for you! ;)

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  17. I often wonder what memories my children will take away from their childhoods. Truly.

    You made the bottom drop out of my stomach with this one. I hope the good things have banished the lies forever. Ellen

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    1. I wonder what my kids will remember all. the. time. And yes, though I don't think the lies ever go away forever, the good things have ensured that, from here on out, I will always know they're lies. Thanks for being here, Ellen. :)

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  18. You are a beautiful writer. This gave me goosebumps. Thank you. <3

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    1. Thank YOU! I'm glad it might've meant a little something to some people. ;)

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  19. Wow, this was really good. Beautiful writing!

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  20. My brother used to say "you remember the stupidest stuff!" cause I'd just come out with arbitrary stuff. I think that is why I love this so much, it shows that. :)
    (I came back to read it again today!)

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    1. Thanks for coming back! I think it's so funny how two people growing up in the same house can remember completely different things, but I especially love it when siblings back you up - I thought I was crazy for hallucinating when I saw that gingham wallpaper, but years later, as adults, he said it happened to him too! Sweet validation!

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