Ever since my family moved into our new house – a three-story, moss-streaked white stucco building (now green hardyboard) – we have maintained a yearly bedroom cycle. There is one less bedroom than there are people so we three sisters rotate every year: two have to share and one gets to be alone.
On the first Friday of spring break, the calendar had made a full turn and I spent the day lugging my books, bags, clothes, nick-knacks and all manner of forgotten items downstairs. By dinnertime, finally finished, we were all exhausted. That first night I lay on the bottom of the bunk bed I now shared with my little sister, tracing my fingers against the plywood above me as I waited for sleep to descend. I felt sad to give up my bedroom, but not nearly as much as I had anticipated. And there, in the dark, I was brought back to the first year I lucked out on a bedroom to myself. Except, I didn’t really luck out.
The year that I was eleven, to start the rotation, my mother wrote each of our names on torn strips of lined paper and drew one out of the hat. I impatiently watched her unscrunch the chosen strip, crossing my fingers in fervent hope that it would be my name written in thick black sharpie. “Ariana” she read. My face fell and I stared at my feet, at the hole in my red sock. But glancing back up, I viewed a mix of emotions travel across my sister’s features. She took a deep breath, turned towards me, and offered me the bedroom. It was a selfless act I will never forget and an offering of sympathy towards everything I was coming to terms with that year.
As I picked out the shadows of our furniture from my bed, I began to remember what happened in that bedroom. Last year, in French class, we read a composition about how the colours and decorations of a bedroom reflect the personality of its inhabitant. I did not re-paint my walls from their original sage green and spent little time organizing and displaying. My bedroom was not about presenting myself: it was about absorbing everything I couldn’t present. In that space which was just mine, I shut the door and let myself be, I dumped my emotions into its private confines, and for once I had total control of something.
Then this past year, my second turn served a different purpose. I think the bedroom to myself was more about retaining the space to chisel out everything that was trapped in that plaster and paint. I’ve done a lot of that in this past while. So last Friday, calling out my little sister’s name to the burrowed form above me and beginning a conversation, I realized that maybe now is a good time to switch bedrooms, to open everything up and share it. The two of us talked late into the night, our voices low as we drifted towards sleep, but it felt good. I’m hoping that this year I’ll get to know both my little sister and myself a bit better. Maybe sharing a bedroom won’t be so bad after all.
P.S. After finishing writing this, I realized that it was in fact quite similar in theme to the blog post I wrote titled Remembering. But actually, it works very well as a sequel to that one and I think reflects the transition I have undergone in this past while.