Wednesday, October 11, 2006

As Real As It May Seem

When I was eighteen and moving out on my own, out of the only home I'd ever known, for the first time my mother waited exactly five days to rearrange my bedroom. Not because I wouldn't be back for holidays and summer (because I was, and more) but because she wanted room for her "crafts." Not like witch craft, think dried flowers and hot glue guns and paints, oh my!

It would be putting it mildly to say I was offended. I felt like that was still my territory and though she took care to put everything back where it was upon each and every one of my returns, I still felt like it was being taken away from me. Did she know me at all? Did she know I was in college! For the first time! In a dorm room! With people I didn't know! Going to classes! Really tough classes! With a lot of reading! With all this new pressure! And though in my mind I knew I could always go home, in my heart I felt like I had no place to go. Nothing was mine anymore. My belongings consisted of clothing, books, Target bedding, a shower caddy and a mini fridge. Nothing was the same.

Eventually, I settled into this new life. And by settled I mean tried out three colleges before I found one I liked, but that's beside the point. I started to accumulate things little by little which eventually found their way into an apartment with a roommate and a shower with shelves where you didn't have to ever move your soap if you didn't want to. It felt good to have my own space and I embraced the independence. This, apparently, was the signal flare my mother was waiting for to GIVE AWAY MY CHILDHOOD FURNITURE.

Yes, that's right, give it away. The bed that I slept in for fifteen years. The dresser in which I'd so carefully inscribed the lyrics to my favorite Debbie Gibson songs with a permanent marker because I was just so into her music. The night stand where the photo of my very first boyfriend stood, even after we'd parted ways. And she wanted to give it all away. "Because they need it more than we do" she'd say. "Because you have ABSOLUTELY NO SENTIMENTAL VALUE ON ANYTHING!" I'd accuse.

It seems a little silly now but at the time, that furniture was mine. It was the only thing I could think of that represented me and the fact that I'd lived in that house for eighteen years. It held memories and at twenty-one when just about everything felt new and uncomfortable, that stuff was old and accepting. A constant.

It took me a long time to get over that. The furniture was nothing spectacular and mom was even kind enough to hold off for a few months while I got used to the idea. But that's how long it took for me to realize that it wasn't the stuff I missed, it was the familiarity.

Today, thinking back on that, I completely understand. I didn't want a beat up dresser, she's Deb-ra Gibson now anyway. I didn't need a bed that was three inches too short. It was the familiarity, that's all. And that's who I am. I need familiar things. I need a center in the midst of the spinning circus that life can become. So when something familiar comes back to me, I can't help but give it a special place in my heart. But now, I have experience on my side. I know that "familiar" doesn't necessarily mean "fit."

When I graduated from college and landed my first big-girl job, my mother bought me a new bedroom set. It's big and beautiful and made of heavy pine. Sure, there are no frames of first loves adorning the shelves but it's got it's own story. A newer one, a less familiar one. One in which the best is just yet to be.

And now, the soundtrack to a fifth grade broken heart:

Debbie Gibson, Only In My Dreams

every time i'm telling secrets
i remember how it used to be
and i realized how much i miss you
and i realize how it feels to be free

now i see i'm up to no good (no, no, no)
and i wanna start again
can't remember when i felt good (baby)
no i can't remember when

no, only in my dreams
as real as it may seem
it was only in my dreams

couldn't see how much i missed you (now i do)
couldn't see how much it meant
now i see my world come tumbling down
now i see the road is bent

if i only once could hold you (no, no, no)
and remember how it used to be
if only i could scold you
and forget how it feels to be free

no, only in my dreams
as real as it may seem
it was only in my dreams


GirlGoyle said... I sooooooo understand you. Now what my mother calls "my room" is really a guest bedroom that is given out to the countless guests they've had over the years. The closets are full of linens and other items. I actually have to ask where she keeps the clean towels because I have no idea. I'm a guest...nothing but a guest. I do however know where everything is in the kitchen...shocker huh?!

Anonymous said...

A year after I moved out my mother re-married and moved into his house. I have always been a guest there. I don't mind but it took a lot of getting used to. I felt like I had no home since my school appartment was likely to change at anytime.

Anonymous said...

My old room became the "Barbie room" for when my nieces stay overnight with their grandma.

LOL - my things never stood a chance.

justacoolcat said...

and what song have you inscribed on your new dresser?

justrun said...

GG- Oh yes, if there is one reason to go home, it's food.

RGF- Ugh, the angst of the early twenties. Ha. :)

Josh- Are you sure it wasn't the Barbie Room before you moved? HAHA. I kid, I kid.

JACC- Nothing... yet! Any suggestions?!

SAS said...

Oh.....Just Run... It's a girl thing, a wonderful sentimental girl thing. My son moved out this summer and left, I mean literally, only this in his room.......His only prom picture , two baby pictures, about 5 empty beerbottles, some spent cigarette butts, a glad bag stuffed with trash, his first trophy (marred, topped and cast in the corner minus the name plate)...a bunch of empty CD cases, crumpled magazines, the dust pan and a black light. I scooched up the pictures, rescued the trophy and hauled in a few more garbage bags. He's been gone two months now. The empty room echos. Sports Illustrated Calender still hangs on the back of the door. It's just an empty room....and my heart aches. When my girls moved out, they left lots of things to come home and hug. Things I could pack up and send them when they remembered. Things I could put up for their children.

Beautiful post through the eyes of the leaver, the dreamer, the scary new beginning. And maybe, just maybe, the same ole lyrics that brought you here belong in the dresser drawer...the end of one moment in time is always the beginning of another...

Bre said...

I can't really sympathize, as my mother is a pack rat and a big time holder-onto-of things. My sister and I played with American Girl Dolls when we were little and this past summer when I talked about maybe giving them to my cousins or selling them on eBay she just about had a heart attack. They are carefully sealed in airtight containers waiting for her grandchildren's hands to discover them. Whenever THAT may be!

Celina said...

How cute! I can't really relate, because I lived in MANY houses and MANY states growing up, and never had the "attachment" to one place. Also, I had to share a room with my baby sister (11 years younger) from 10-12th grades. So, when I left for college, my bro already had my room staked out (my 2 sisters shared the bigger room). Actually, his stuff started getting moved in before I was even gone! And, my sophomore year in college, my family moved across the country and told me I needed to "get my stuff." Now, everything I managed to keep from my childhood is packed up in my storage shed.

Danielle said...

Ah...I haven't heard that song in so long...makes me nostaligic to hear that...I think I might still have that cassette around somewhere even!! My old room became my brother's room, and now my brother and sister both have "rooms" at home but I don't. Maybe that's why I don't go there as often!