Sometimes I yearn to return to it. It was just a small, seven by eleven-foot room located in the west corner of my parents’ home in Hobart, IN. I was four years old when I was introduced to it. The walls were calamine pink and were made of thick plaster, with little pricklies that would stick me if I brushed too close to it. Two long windows were draped in faded brown material. A slight protrusion in the ceiling above my bed created the silhouette of an ugly witch that tormented me nightly until my mother would bring me warm milk. Other nights I remained restless; this was because after the lights were out Gargoyle-like monsters would peek and snicker at me from the closet when the door was left ajar.
Because of this restlessness, Mama hung a lighted picture of Jesus on the wall close to my bed to protect me. On the wall opposite my bed displayed pictures of various sizes: Cinderella, Snow White, Mickey Mouse, and the entire collection of the Northern Tissue Girls.I lost track of the coats of paint that covered and re-covered those walls during my growing years, but the accumulation smoothed the surface somewhat so I was able to snuggle close to it to cool off during the hot summer months. When Papa finally patched up the ceiling, I was dispirited and confused for quite some time–not knowing whether it was the tormenting witch that I missed, or the warm milk and hug.
During this transitional stage, my toys and dolls were shoved from one corner of the room to the other and finally dumped in a large green bag that eventually vanished.
Furniture began to clutter my room — a large mahogany chest of drawers, a dresser of cherry wood, and a new twin bed with an oak headboard. With all of these luxuries crunched together, I had to shuffle sideways to leave the room. Despite its crowded quarters, it was all mine and I loved it. Its thick plaster wall muffled the sound of my occasional sniffs and sobs of self-pity and the sounds of the transistor radio that lulled me to sleep afterward.
Decorating was difficult to do well on our low family budget, but after careful scrutiny, I gleefully tore down the tissue paper queens and replaced them with centerfold pictures of Frankie Avalon, Elvis Presley, and James Dean. To bring these photos to life, a record player was added to the clutter in my room. It was the portable type in a suitcase and was difficult to place, but it finally found a home at the foot of my bed, which made it even more difficult to open the closet door; this was O.K., though, because I hadn’t forgotten about the monsters in the closet.
It’s amazing what versatility the common twin bed could offer. It served as a chair, a desk, a clothes rack, a ladder, a safe for my diary, and of course, a place to sleep. Even my favorite pillow developed secrets of its own. When stripped of its cover, it unveiled (with various hearts, stars, exclamation marks, and careless scratch-offs) names of boys who didn’t even know I existed. The space under my bed was not ignored; it housed fifty ‘Teen magazines, seventy-five 45 rpm records, ten record albums, various notebooks, two poetry books, and a torn-out page from Better Homes and Gardens of the huge bedroom I longed to have someday.
My bedroom remained untouched for a long time after I left home – almost as if it were trying to lure me back. Quite frightened, I did return to it the night before my wedding. I smiled at my famous friends on the wall when my attention fell upon something above the door. I laughed hysterically. It was etched in wood: “Sharon Loves ___ Forever.” I realized then that some things do change.
Late that night I clicked on my lighted Jesus picture and lay in bed, thinking of patched-up witches, haunted closets, and warm milk. I wondered if I would ever again have another room where dreams were limitless and life had no boundaries.
Hoosier Horizon magazine 1990
HS Hoosier Storybook 2002
Copyright Library of Congress 1985/02
**The above printed material is copyrighted, is registered with the Library of Congress and is the property of Sharon Palmeri. Permission is needed before use. Thank you! *S* **
ARTWORK BY: Unknown