I don’t recall the exact date she first walked into the classroom.
I don’t recall whether she spoke to me first, or whether I came to her.
We never started, we just were.
School and streets and malls were navigated, side by side.
She was The Pretty One; cool, calm, revered. I was The Tall One; outspoken, active, complicated.
There were cliques and teams and different classes at different times. There were labels and expectations and assumptions. There was gossip and hope and rumors.
There was noise everywhere we stepped as everybody around us thrashed their way through high school.
I had wished that was the only racket I faced, but there’s always more.
She knew my crazy and accepted it. Unspoken words and a gentle respect immediately bound us together.
Before I knew it, we ended up spending time on my side of town. Something new to me.
We’d meet at one of our cars, sing to the best that the early 1990’s had to offer, and park on the muddy spot in front of the boxy little blue house.
We’d march across the worn linoleum kitchen floor, grabbing at the fridge and pantry as we passed.
A few steps down the hastily wood-paneled hall and we’d swing open the door to the only space I could call my own.
Faded lavender paint was washed white by the afternoon sun as we turned the fat knob on my dusty black stereo.
School bags were dropped by the scarred brown door, hair quickly checked in the full-length mirror nailed to it’s back as it closed us away from the rest of the house.
In here the air purifier hummed, keeping the fog of unfiltered Kools from seeping into my slippery ruffled bedding, my airy white curtains on either window, my weak pink lungs.
Poems and doodles were penciled onto the walls in between Far Side newspaper clippings, tattooing the space with blossoming personality.
She peppered my room with her handwriting, her photos, her left-behind sweater.
She would rearrange the Polaroids on my cork board as I ran through our homework assignments, calling back answers or asking me to explain something further.
She would sift through the slender, dark closet, fingering clothes too long for her to borrow, making random remarks about her day.
From my usual spot leaning back into my shelved headboard, I could see a curling brown rectangle still hanging up by the ceiling’s edge, a silent reminder of our bond.
That summer I had stared at the softly lit buttons of the simple phone I had earned to have in my room. He had dumped me, unceremoniously with a quick call, breaking my heart with that final click.
I was pressed against the wall, staring at the smeared spot where I had rubbed out his number through a wash of tears when my door opened that night.
She stormed in with brown grocery bags, tape, and a thick black marker in hand. In a tirade, she made sign after sign declaring BOYS SUCK, BOYS ARE STUPID, I HATE HIM TOO, YOU DESERVE THE BEST and clambered onto my bureau with the dated gold trim, the rickety desk, the simple chair to hang them around the entire room like a hug.
Then she crawled into the twin bed by my side, foot-to-head like we always did, and talked me to sleep.
Her passionate outburst so out of character, yet exactly what I needed and never had to ask for.
There was nothing in that room that she hadn’t touched, made better, or made more beautiful just by being in there.
It soon came to be that even when she wasn’t there, rifling through my earring collection or trying on my lip glosses, it was still a sanctuary for me. I could be comfortable there.
More than the stacks of marked-up beloved books with cracked bindings, golden sports trophies, mixed tapes, or movie posters, she made the room Mine.
The lovely invisible threads that bound us were woven in that room like a blanket that kept me warm and dry in the storms I faced alone.
Twenty years have come between me and that room.
Our fingerprints and writings have been painted away.
Our footprints have been rolled up, brought to the town dump.
Hundreds of miles have been put between me and that room.
Yet, I still carry it in my heart, feeling sheltered and understood, all because of her.
It once was just a box to hold my stuff.
And then she opened the door.
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This post was written for the Red Dress Club’s Memoir Meme writing prompt.
The prompt went like this:Think of a room from your past. It can be any type of room at all.
Take a mental picture of that room.
What happened there? What is it like? What is the atmosphere there? What are the smells, the sounds, the sights? How does it feel?
Now reveal that snapshot to your reader.
My bedroom changed in the light of a friend I met when we were 15 years old. She had this calm acceptance of our friendship and quiet belief in me that I never felt before. I spent years alone in my room before I met her, preferring to go to other people’s homes to hang out. She was actually visiting this weekend when I had peeked at this week’s writing prompt. Images of us in that room as teenagers kept flashing through my mind, and I had to share how a person can completely shift the atmosphere in a room just by being in it, and do so permanently.
So this is for her.
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