I took my kids to my hometown. An incredibly gorgeous fall weekend in the South, the kind that makes you feel alive. I loaded up the minivan, and they piled in, and we went to visit my parents, who still live in the same house that we moved into when I was 13. The house is the same, for the most part. It has had some cosmetic facelifts here and there – new porches on the back and front, a remodeled dining room, and brand new windows. There was no particular reason for the trip, nothing that compelled us to go, other than simply seeing my mom and dad, which, in itself, is not uncommon. But while I was there, I reflected on some profound things.
At night, I would settle my small children into double bed in what used to be my room, and I would lie down in the twin bed in the same room, which we jokingly referred to as our “motel.” And then I found myself staring at the ceiling and the same pale pink walls, contemplating the passage of time. The wallpaper border was the same one I remembered – pink bows tied in knots from end to end, all the way around the room. There was my old bookshelf, which still held a collection of reading material from approximately age 5 all the way through college. Where else could I find Sesame Street books and Great Expectations on the same shelf? My sliding closet doors bore tape residue from the celebrity posters that had hung there years ago. The view out the window had changed – a huge maple tree stood outside the window where there used to be no shade at all.
There, in the night, surrounded by my past, I thought about my present. I really have turned into a grown-up, I thought. And this was the room where I had so longed to become that. It used to seem so impossible to reach. This was the room where I had spent hours pouring my heart and soul into diaries full of teenage angst…where I had cried when I didn’t go to the prom…where I had a telephone permanently attached to my ear after school…where I struggled and fought with my physics homework. Where I wrote my boyfriend, who would be my husband, long letters when we were apart during summers home from college. The room where I sought God and felt His love and assurance surround me in times when I needed Him most. The room where I forged my own personhood and dreamed about the days that were ahead for me.
I grew up on Beach Boys music, thanks to the influence of my dad. And I was reminded of the 60’s song, “In My Room”… “There’s a world where I can go and tell my secrets to…in my room, in my room…do my dreaming and my scheming, lie awake and pray…do my crying and my sighing, laugh at yesterday.” The place in which I lay awake that night had been my sanctuary for so long. There was something sacred in the moment that I realized I was seeing the fulfillment of a dream in the bed across from me. Two little children, a boy and a girl, slept peacefully, snuggled up next to each other in the very room in which I had once wondered who they would be. I certainly could never have dreamed them up myself. I thought of the man I had back home and smiled…because I used to spend nights in that room wondering if there was anyone out there for me. Back then, it did not seem likely, but I was wrong.
I will probably never be as attached to any room – ever – as much as I am to that pink one. Sometimes in the woven tapestry of our lives we are given the opportunity to make connections. To trace the path of a single thread that starts at one end of the fabric and stretches all the way across to the other side – where another thread picks up the pattern and keeps going. That reflective weekend, I made some connections from my growing-up years to my grown-up years, thanks to the pink room that is still there. So mom, if you’re reading this, don’t remodel it. The border is a little out-of-date, and the color a little teenage-girly, but I still think of it as my room. And I probably always will. Let’s keep it that way.