Best of 2009: Changing Rooms

The following is a re-post first published, June 25th. Six months later, Hal and I have fallen in love with our tiny room. We often talk about how much we'll miss sleeping in such tiny quarters when we eventually move, especially in the wee hours of the morning when the kids crawl into bed with us. It almost feels like we're on an adventure, Wynkyn, Blynkn and Nod style.

P.S. While re-posting this I realized I never did a follow-up post with pictures of the kids' shared room and their story... Snapped some photos this morning, will post them soon.

"Beautiful things come in small packages," they say and so do I, writing this post from the tiny box that recently became our bedroom. A room we needed our architectural thinking caps to make work.

I'm always hunting for treasure. Coveting the home down the block with three-bedrooms and its office space in the back (with a skylight! How modern!) Daydreaming over bigger and better cars and homes, new clothing, shoes, furniture et al.

Because shiny new things sparkle and glow. No scratches from being repeatedly dropped on their faces. No stains.

We live in a world blessed with riches and a society that bribes us with new boxes. It's box cars and box homes and box television sets. And sometimes it's impossible to turn our heads because new cars always smell better. So do new homes, built on the wood of freshly cut trees, with their new bedrooms and clean slate of design ideas.

Same goes for people so we fantasize about shiny, new, carefully constructed bodies. Men seemingly cut from stone and women, pure, unused, even untouched.

We are told from ages young to dream of new life and new homes, to fantasize about the virgin in all her unattainable forms. Because wouldn't it be nice to be the first? The first family to live in the house. To own the car. To leave footprints in the sand. To steer the boat on her maiden voyage before her paint chips and her body belongs to the sea.

To feel what has never been touched.

... ... ... ... ... ...

Last night Hal and I stayed up until 2am talking. I had made a comment in passing that upset us both. I had embarrassed myself on accident, bragging about past exploits, grasping at the peacock feathers of my past - before there was a family or even an us. Desperate to clarify to all with ears open that wild things never forget the open field.

Sometimes I catch myself saying things I don't want to be remembered by.

Or maybe I do?

But why?

Because people take great offense to the truth. Because the things most exciting to talk about are most often the things left unsaid.

Sometimes I find myself publicly dipping my toes into the pools of my past. Hard not to when for many years, I defined myself solely as one who stood in the center of my own puddles, completely submerged from the neck down.

I'm a married mother of two, now. I write about food and how to get my child to eat it, post photographs where my nursing bra shows and people praise the biology of it all - the beauty and bonding of mother and child. But sometimes I want to be more than that. I want to be looked at and talked to and treated like a piece of meat. Like someone not afraid to open her mind and her mouth and yes, even her legs. Someone empowered by her inner "slut," frustrated by the virgin and how she is placed on a pedestal for crossing her legs and closing her mouth and talking only of safe things.

Last night I felt the need to apologize to Hal for being a used car with mileage, a woman in a stained dress who burps and farts and squeezes her friend's boobs in photographs. For revealing too much with the lights on. For speaking publicly about private parts without blushing. Because I'm supposed to blush. And cross my legs. And keep my voice down as not to wake the neighbors, spook, embarrass, shame.

"I'm sorry I'm not the kind of woman who dabs the sides of her mouth with linen napkins."

"You think we'd be together if you were?"


... ... ... ... ... ... ...

Before we moved into the small bedroom this past weekend, I thought, maybe we should just find a new place and live there instead.

"If we're going to move we might as well just move homes. This place is stale. We've outgrown it. I'm ready for a change."

But just like a marriage, a body, a home, old can become new. And better than fantasy reality can be. Truth like sugar in the raw.

The first night we spent in our new bedroom, I told Hal, "this is my dream room."

"But it's so small," he said.


There's a direct correlation between changing identities and switching bedrooms overnight -- rearranging the same old items in a new and different space. I carry my past with me in my back pocket and every now and then, walk into the wrong room, expecting to find my bed when, Wait! Where did everything go? Oh, wait! That's right. That's not my room anymore.

This is my room:

Full of old things new and new things old, everything differently placed and rearranged and mirrors fresh out of their plastic wrap.

They say that airplanes aren't safe to fly unless they've flown a thousand miles. And ships are more likely to sink their first day at sea. They say that people can change if they want to. But changing will never change the past and thank God because what a ride that was. So many memories made in old bedrooms, sprawled across dirty sheets.

They say that beautiful things come in small, unassuming packages. Like the old room that came new when we finally rearranged the furniture. Like peacock feathers* folding inward toward the body.

*Nevertheless, always there.