I can’t tell you much about it. It never really seemed real, or like MINE. What I can tell you is that it was perfect and neat, a beautiful showcase, a magazine photo. Like the rest of the house, it held to a theme, each personal item tucked anonymously away. At a glance, you’d say idyllic, and I’d have to agree, she did a lovely job.
It was pink. The kind of pink that Laura Ashley herself couldn’t have wet-dreamed. Cotton candy pink. Pepto Bismol pink Elly the Elephant PINK. If M.A.C. made a lipstick this color, drag queens everywhere would buy it up faster than Seinfeld’s Elaine finding a warehouse full of Today’s Sponges. Really fucking pink.
We lived in a split-level house in a small town in Upstate NY that my parents had had built to order. Somehow, my younger brother had been awarded the slope-ceilinged attic space, (No FAIR!) and, as a consolation prize, I’d been allowed to choose my paint color. I’ve got nothing to say for myself on this front. I chose the pink. I was six years old and had a circular valise full of Barbies and their clothing. It was the obvious choice.
My mother was the one to go all out. A four-inch border around the ceiling studded with pink hearts. Rose-colored bed linens with matching bedskirt. Foofy curtains boasting ruffled tie-backs. Precious Moments dolls and needlepoint samplers. There was a pair of hand drawn ballerinas hanging over my twin bed. It was a girl’s bedroom to end all girls’ bedrooms. We never did anything halfway in my house. Go big or go home.
It didn’t stay pink forever (though probably longer than you’d guess). When my great Aunt Peggy died, and I’d begun to cover the cavity causing walls with posters of Jim Morrison (so cool and retro!!), my parents decided that along with her bequeathed bedroom set, I’d get a new coat of paint. I didn’t get to choose this time, but was satisfied with the eggshell beige and a flowery stencil applied by my mum.
In the beige neé pink room, I started my first journal, blasted Metallica’s “Black” album, spent hours on the phone with friends talking about nothing and learned the finer points of self-love. I’d have sex in it, but not until the weekend before we’d move out of that house, the summer before my sophomore year of college. Closed doors were a No-No (except to change) and privacy an endangered species; as well as the tchotchkes, my mother owned every moment had under her roof.
I grew up in that room, but it remains only pink in my memory. Just pink. No sentimental attachments or wistful backwards glances. A snapshot of a place that held me. Scene notes. A setting. A backdrop on a journey toward something more MINE.