I’m sitting under the window in the room that used to be my bedroom when I was sixteen. My laptop is propped up on a TV tray and I’m facing the door. When this was my bedroom, I had a blue sofa sitting here that I used as a bed. Why? Because when the sofa was in the living room I would sleepwalk out to it every night. I solved the sleepwalking problem by swapping my daybed for the sofa.
When this was my bedroom, the walls were papered with 1970s era weird Western-style images – flour grinders and sacks, wagon wheels, that sort of thing. The panelling on the walls was thin and unpainted, and there were builtin bookshelves that weren’t deep enough to hold any books. The bookshelves are now flowerbeds in my garden and the room is all bright blue, painted by my cousins for their kids years ago when they were renting this place from my mom.
We’ve been using this room as a storage area while we tried to sort and reorganize and give away the multiple households worth of stuff. It’s still jampacked with boxes, only I was able to get rid of enough in the last week that I can now walk across the room, unfold a TV tray, and sit here and write like I used to when I was that other me who lived here before. Today’s Brianna still wonders why she is here, but I’m hoping by clearing out more things and unpacking my art supplies that have languished in these boxes for three years, I’ll find some kind of balance between that me and this me.
It’s springtime and the bulbs are bursting into daffodils and tulips. The periwinkle is dotting the hillsides with purple. The morning sun only touches this room for a few minutes a day – the rest of the day it is in shade and cool. If I were a feng shui expert, I would point out that this room houses the area that would be the creativity center. It’s been a source of guilt that it’s just sitting here unused, but then I think about what I’ve actually had to do in order to unearth this space like an archaeologist and I realize hey, not so bad. My grandmother still has two storage units full of her mother’s things, that she refuses to look through. Me, I went through everything three or four times before finding a home for it. Even though it was tough every time.
I don’t want to get too comfortable in this spot. I’m tired of being followed around by shadows of that old life, feeling like I’m in limbo in the present. I want to be in a place where I can make things grow. I miss having a studio, and this room would make a nice one, but my eyes don’t work right here. I never see the room that it is, only the room that it used to be. I haven’t unpacked my things because there is something in me that says “Not yet. Not here.” I’d like to find that place, where I feel at home.
This shifting and moving of boxes, the tapping of nails and the rolling of paint on the walls is all in preparation for putting the house on the market as soon as possible. It’s a darling mountain cottage and the first house I ever lived in. When my mom and I pulled into the driveway the first time and I saw the little star-shaped blue flowers growing under the window (the window that is now behind me), it felt like magic. Like a fairy tale. It still has that feeling, like happily ever after happened here, only I’m still me and I’m in the present and I don’t like putting endings on my vast, unknowable future.
We’re selling this house, and we’re looking for a little acreage, probably back in Missouri but we’re open to the possibilities. I’ve said “no” to a few things recently in preparation for this move – adopting a cat, for example, a decision that wrenched my little heart but still felt right. But I’ve also said yes – planting more flowers, culling things we won’t need wherever we go next. I’m looking forward to the part that comes after happily ever after, even if it’s difficult or dirty or confusing or heartbreaking, because that’s how you know you’re still in real life and not just treading water in the fairytale.
It’s a nice place to write, under this window. I like the way the blue changes throughout the day, and I have always loved the faraway quality of the light. If you gaze out of this window, straight ahead, it’s all mountain and trees and flowery hillsides.