Lesson One: My First Bedroom
For the first four years of my life I grew up in a small house next door to my father’s parents. The house style was referred to in the real estate industry as a “story and a half”. My bedroom was located upstairs, off to the right of the staircase. It contained one window facing west, and two built-in, unlit, storage spaces beneath each of the slanted roof eves. The storage space was accessed from within my room through hinged doors, three feet high with crystal door pulls. The remaining bedroom area was a skinny rectangular space in which an adult could stand erectly. There was room for a braided rug, a bed, and a white dresser which provided space for a small lamp and a child’s record player. Most likely there was additional room for my toys. But I don’t remember that. I’m not sure where they were supposed to be stored, but I do remember pulling open the doors to the storage space and playing. I felt I had my own private play area, it was special!
The bed was actually a crib. It was called a “6 year model” and my parents hoped I would be able to live within it until I was 6 years old. My sister had her own bedroom downstairs, it had two doors and two windows, plus a huge bed. One door led to the bathroom and the other to the kitchen. I was upstairs, down the short hall from my parent’s bedroom, only the staircase and a closet separated us.
I think my bedroom was to be shared play-space with my sister who was five years older, but that didn’t really work well. She didn’t want to play with me, I was little. She had her own friends, who occasionally indulged my company, if I would follow their directions. They decided how to dress me up or that I needed to ride in the wagon. I was little, I couldn’t make my own decisions.
I enjoyed my afternoon nap, which my mother considered a necessity. However, whether it was forme or her was debatable. It was a good idea, especially since my father worked in a town 15 miles away, and supper was unusually late by conventional rural standards and tired cranky children do not contribute to proper dinnertime decorum. But I enjoyed my nap time because of the freedom that came with it; I was alone, no one was watching me.
My first association with fabric came from the bedroom curtains; thin, sheer and overlapping panels, filtering light. Their purpose was pure pleasure and decoration. The function of privacy came from the shades that were pulled down under them at night.
The second association, is a memory of both pure delight and loss. This is one of those formative memories.
I had a favorite blue wool blanket I could not sleep without. In fact there was a duplicate of this blanket because I made such a fuss when it was washed or not available. Yes, I sucked my thumb with it, a habit my grandmother felt obligated to obliterate.
I don’t remember how I came upon the scissors, but since both my mother and grandmother sewed and did handiwork, plus my older sister was allowed to use them for paper dolls, I was familiar with scisssors; what they did and how they worked.
However it happened, there I was, alone in my crib-like bed, with my favorite blanket and a pair of scissors. I’m looking out the window with it’s filtered light and wanted to know what it would look like through another layer. The blanket blocked the light entirely, but I soon found that if you pinch together small parts of the blanket, pull up and snip, you can make circles. How exciting, I could have peep-holes. I was so pleased!
Perhaps I wanted to share my discovery, I don’t know if I actually called out in blind nativity, but unexpectedly, looming above me, was my mother, followed by her shrieking, “you have RUIN-NED IT”.
My delight was quickly extinguished. The decision, perhaps made jointly by my grandmother and my mother, was to take my blanket away from me.