If I could go anywhere in the world, I would step back in time and travel to my bedroom of 1978.
I would lie down and gaze out at the small bush beside the flat garage roof with a small peephole into the sky outside my window! I would change history and go back to when life was simple and the world was gentler. My room was at ground level and my bedroom was partially underground alongside the foundation of the duplex we lived in under the Maple trees in Western NY. When I opened the window just a crack, I could feel the seasonal changes and smell the woods. In the winter, the snow would leave fingerprints of crystals upon the glass and gave the feeling of being in an ice cave but warm and toasty under the flannel duvet. I could become a fairy princess or an ice queen in a horse driven carriage. I could become anything I wished to be just by closing the door and imagining.
This bedroom was my respite. It was tiny and the one window across from my single bed had white doily curtains, which hung below its length to draw the eyes downward to the dresser below. The view was simple but satisfying. The curtains were tied on each side by a yellow ribbon and this brought light and cheer into my little haven. My mom would also bring me a sunflower or a bunch of daisies from the garden to sit in a vase on the armoire and upon this sat a framed photograph of my dog, Princess, the Dalmatian who I had for only a short time. To the left of the window and slightly higher on the wall hung a large painting of Abraham Lincoln, whom represented a sense of justice in my world. He was always my favorite US President for he showed kindness in an unkind and prejudice time in history.
My bed was beside the door and when the door stood open beside it, this provided a cozy little cubby to write in. I felt safe and secure. There was a shelf on the wall beside me where perched was my diary which history was waiting to be written in. This book was my best friend and as an only child, I often spent days and evenings creating and writing. I would sketch or tell stories and I would gaze out the window for inspiration. If I were sitting my view was completely different than if I were lying down. Day and night provided different views as well. Everything I needed was in this room.
Below me, my bed had secret drawers and when I had a friend sleepover, there was a trundle bed that pulled out. This bed spread out towards the bookshelf with the pull down desk. The books on the shelves were of farm and animal stories, medicine, science and studies of the natural world. I loved horses, the outdoors and riding in the woods. I dreamt that I was going to be a Doctor one day or a Veterinarian. I had a boyfriend who was my first love at this time so it should have been a happy time in my life. However, there was a dark cloud above me as my father was very ill. This reality often broke my thoughts and my happy dreams. I was a child becoming an adult too quickly and I could not slow down this process. My father was dying and I was only 16 years old! Alcohol was killing him.
This reality was often not spoken about. It just was there, leaking from the corners of the rooms within and casting a shadow on the “ideal” life I saw in my dreams. My bedroom was my happy place, my sad place, the place where I could be “all me” open and vulnerable.
If I could go back there now, I would spend more time with my dad. I would talk and ask questions. I would listen more and judge less. Because I was 16, I wasn’t too keen with his volatile temper and mood swings. His drunken silliness where he escaped to was a source of embarrassment. I could not see that he was hurting, as I see now. My father was caught in a web of genetic tendency, a tough life and deep damage due to WWII in which he fought. He was a deep soul and an artist and yet he went to war and suffered from what we now know to be post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Had he been treated and didn’t seek alcohol, he likely would have lived longer than 57 years.
The memories come rushing in and I am right back in that room with all the thoughts of a 16 year old. There are many stories to be told.
These stories lie beneath the surface waiting to be told. If I could go back to my room and gaze out my window once more, I believe that these truths would come pouring out onto the pages and they would contain traces of my tears. I would look out in day and remember the light and the texture of that space and at night I would gaze into the stars and still dream of a better world. The dark shadows would lift as I fly free.