The following is a free-write exercise from a prompt entitled, “my childhood bedroom,” which was part of a writing workshop I took at The Writing Pad in Los Angeles. If you live in the Southern California region, I HIGHLY recommend checking out The Writing Pad. I’ve taken several classes there and they do not disappoint. This class in particular was fabulous and taught by writer and comedian Annabelle Gurwitch. She was an inspiration! And if you think she looks familiar, you probably watched a lot of the “Dinner and a Movie” cable specials.
In many ways I felt like I grew up in my bedroom. Not necessarily in the house it was contained in. But my room. My own personal retreat and piece of heaven. The one place I could be alone, achieve solitude and live my life by my own rules.
It wasn’t anything grand or extravagant. It was four white walls and closet (my parents were never very creative with color). There were two windows with shudders to block out the sun, or let the light in, depending on the time of day. I had a white trundle bed with a Holly Hobby-ish comforter and handmade pillows. The headboard was a shelf where I kept my entire collection of 1980s music tapes and my boom box. There was a white desk with red wood that lined the drawers. There were bookshelves with my entire collection of Nancy Drew books and Seventeen magazines I kept in order in magazine holders. And of course my nightstand that contained little trinkets, notes and the book I was reading at the time.
Everything in my bedroom was mine and mine alone. I decided which comforter would be on my bed, which posters hung on my wall, which books lined the bookshelves, and which little girl wall hangers and drawings adorned the space. The room contained many of my mom’s handmade needlepoint masterpieces. But I didn’t mind that. All of them were unique and made especially for me.
I decorated my bedroom for the holidays. Yes, I transformed my room for Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and even Christmas (despite the fact my dad forbid snowman and Santa candles because we were Jewish). Back then there was not the abundant Hanukkah décor that’s available today. I kept these decorations in shoeboxes in my closet labeled with their holiday on the box. These boxes have now become plastic totes that reside in my garage. Old habits die hard.
I spent hours in my room by myself. It was my cocoon; my bubble. Sometimes I’d wake up early and not leave my room because I wasn’t ready to face my entire family waiting downstairs. My parents and sisters would tease me. “She’s always hiding in her room,” they’d say. Hiding, being the key word. That was partly true. But mainly I just loved being by myself and exploring my creativity.
I created lesson plans and decorated the room as a classroom when I wanted to be a teacher. It was my home office with my typewriter, multicolored papers and stickers when I was running my person sticker club and pen pal service. It was mine and I loved it.
And the day I moved into my freshman dorm, my room was taken over by one of my sisters. That was the day I realized my childhood house was no longer my home.
This is the only photograph I could find of my room. It’s a digital photo of a Polaroid taken in 1990. That’s my little sister, Kayli. Isn’t she the spitting image of Sophie?!