Sue K.

My Childhood Room

The summer I turned five, my family lived at my grandmother’s home for several months while our brand new house was being built. Then, in August, we moved in. This house was in the last new subdivision south of town, and near the river. In retrospect, it was a very comfortable house which I would not mind owning today. My bedroom was at the front of the house, and had windows on three walls. One looked out at the front porch, with a view to the street, and just opposite the end of the street, about a half block away, was my soon-to-be school. The front window looked out at the lawn and trees and the street. The side window looked out at Kelly and Casey’s house next door. They were littler kids than me, and not of much interest to me, but their mother was nice. My room was furnished initially with old hand-me-down furniture from my parents’ families. There was a single bed, a dresser, a toy-box, and a small, old wooden armless rocking chair. There was a small lamp on a small cupboard next to my bed, under the window. I didn’t put it into the sketch, I see.

But something transpired with my first bedroom which started a recurring theme in my dreams that still crops up. The summer I was 11 I went far away (I thought it was far, but really only a couple of hundred miles) to a church camp in the mountains near the coast. My best friend went too, and we were there for a week. To our astonishment we were put in different cabins at camp, and I was instantly, and desperately homesick. It was a beautiful place, and all the people were very nice, but I simply could not wait to go home again. At the end of the week, my parents and brother came to pick me up andafter another night on the coast, we returned home to the valley. When I walked into my room at home, though, a surprise was waiting for me. While I was gone, my mother had no doubt worked very hard and lovingly to turn my little girl room into something befitting the young lady I was about to become. The walls had been painted blue with white trim, the old chairs were gone, and there was a beautiful, curvy glass-topped dressing table with a blue skirt, trimmed with white eyelet ruffles, with a matching stool and oval mirror. A new white rug on the floor, and a nice new blue bedspread. I learned to love this transformation quickly, but I have never forgotten the first impression. I believe I sobbed myself to sleep. My poor mother...she never let on how disappointed she must have been in my reaction. I suppose she understood me pretty well.

Even now I frequently dream of walking into former spaces I have inhabited, expecting them to be one way, and finding them completely different. Remembering this today has got me pondering the theme of transformation and how that might appear in art.