Friday, November 5, 2010

Em Cashman - A place to call my own

As we move on in life and further from our childhood, our relationships change. You always hear that you won’t be as close with your high school friends once you leave for college, but you don’t believe it until it happens. You want to believe that your first boyfriend is your one and only true love, until you meet someone better. But some things will never change. Some things will always feel the same no matter how long you are away. You’re best friend from kindergarten will always have a special place in your heart. You can go years without seeing her but for some reason when you do, everything just feels right and you seem to pick up right where you left off. I feel that my relationship with my home has changed much like the relationships with the loved ones in my life. After going away for college four years ago, my residence in Chicago seems to have changed from a home to a house, a place to a space…. But my room will always be like that best friend from kindergarten. We will always pick up right where we left off. My visits back to Chicago became more and more rare, and so did my familiarity with my house there. My most recent trip home left me feeling distant and confused. This house didn’t smell the way I remembered in high school. The old furniture I knew was replaced with new. It was no longer warm and welcoming, but cold and unfamiliar. So I seek refuge in the one room in the house that would always be mine, would always be my place – my room. Even after months of being gone I know that “the most delicate gestures, the earliest gestures suddenly come alive, are still faultless” (Bachelard 15). My room hasn’t changed much since I was a little girl of the age two, this is my first universe, my cosmos (Bachelard 4). I take refuge in my room. I look at the pink and white butterfly wallpaper on my walls and gently graze my fingers against the stickers I put on my headboard in the 2nd grade. They are yellowed with age and peeling off at the corners but they are definitely still there. I look under my bed to find the purple nail polish stain I left from sophomore year of high school. I rearranged my furniture to cover it up. To this day my mom still does not know. I nuzzle my face into my childhood teddy bear, Baby Bear. She accompanied me everyday to school during first grade. Her pink dress has now turned to grey and she is missing both her arms but I think she is more adorable than ever. I finger through my diary – the same one I have kept since the fourth grade. I smile and laugh looking at how my handwriting has changed and progressed throughout the years. And I cry bitter tears mourning lost friendships and feel jealous of how easy things used to be. I lay and breathe deeply watching the dust specks float in beams of light through my window and I wonder what makes this room my place? None of my other bedrooms throughout college were really, truly my place. They were temporary and ever changing. But this room, this place, has been mine for 19 years. I’ve left my mark on this room whether it be stickers on the headboard or a nail polish stain in the carpet. These are all things that make my room mine. I have hidden nooks in my room that no one else will ever know about. Endless amounts of dreams have floated in and out over the years. I have a deep emotional relationship with this room that won’t go away – deep rooted and personal (Hubbard 43). It has been baptized by my tears and heard endless laughs and secrets.
Sure, I’ve lived in the rest of my house for 19 years, but it was just a space through which to move to other locations in the house. I always felt like the other rooms of the house were communal spaces to be shared with everyone. When guests came over, they were entertained in the common rooms like the dining, living, and family room. My room though, was reserved only for me and the closest cousins and friends. The rest of the house collectively belonged to family - me, my brothers and my parents. But my room belonged only to me. No one else could feel the connection that I feel in my room. I know the creaking sound my bed makes when I stretch out in the morning. I know the sound the heat vent makes when it powers on during Christmas time. This is mine.
I find the whole changing relationship with my home to be somewhat bittersweet. It’s odd how things change when you don’t expect them to, even when you have been warned. And it’s odd that you can form relationships with places that so closely mirror relationships with your friends and family. I know that as get older, we also grow apart. Even though I have grown apart from past friends, relationships, and even my home, its reassuring to know that you will always have some things to fall back on – whether it be your kindergarten friend or your childhood room. Sure, after enough years any friendship can be lost and any place can become a space. I’m sure that if the family that lived in my home before me came back it would no longer be the place that they remembered. But for now, I’m happy to know I have a place to go back to – even if it is just my room.

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