22 September 2005


I am in the bedroom I grew up in. Through the years, this room has changed colors along with my life. It started out blue, a baby sort of blue, back in the 70s & 80s when its primary resident was my sister. My own room was down the hall then, but I knew the blue room well because I was fearful of creepy things under my bed, so most nights I would scoot quietly down the hallway in my pajamas and climb into bed with my sister where I felt safe. The blue room had a hanging wicker swing-chair in the corner, a canopy bed for awhile, and all of those older-sisterly things like lots of eyeshadow, cassette tapes, and notebooks scribbled with her high school doodles.

I moved into the blue room in the late 80s, after my sister left home. My dad and I picked out a new comforter for my bed. Pink and white flowers with thin stripes of green running through. We also chose a new paint color to match the pink flowers, and so for the next fourteen years, whenever I came to this house, I slept in a room dripping with Pepto Bismol. That’s the honest to goodness exact shade of pink that it was. You could actually see it glowing from the staircase, its brightness shooting out from the doorway, hinting at the glory to come. Once, when I was about sixteen, I cut out pictures from magazines and taped a collage to one of the bathroom’s wallpapered walls, just beyond the Pepto. I was so proud of my artistic display of Clinique ads, images of my favorite actors, the Guess? logo, and cut-outs of important slogans like “Be Cool" and "Dress to Impress."

Then, sometime in the recent past when I was not around to appreciate it, the Pepto Bismol lost its luster, and a deep shade of raspberry wine took its place. So that’s where I am tonight. In a sea of raspberry wine. I’m all grown up, and this room feels so different to me now. If I squint my eyes and concentrate hard, I can vaguely remember being a child in here, but then the room makes me aware of how long ago that was. One of my sister’s old porcelain dolls that my dad brought back from a business trip still stands in her kimono on the bureau, the only real evidence that this was once a blue room.

But the true reason I know this room is different is because of why I’m here. I can see my suitcase in the corner, the stack of books and photos I brought from home on the nightstand, a candle from one of my friends, and a soft blue knitted blanket that my mother-in-law gave me to bring here…to wrap around my shoulders whenever I need some comfort. And I have needed it a lot.

I still remember the day my dad and I went to pick out the Pepto pink. I remember comparing all the swatches and choosing the one we thought was the brightest and best. The most girly pink we could find. And now he is sick and I think I would give almost anything to have the room be pink again.

We just went to see him at the hospital. Lots of little tubes hooked into his hand and chest. He’s wearing one of those paper-thin gowns that makes everyone look frail and small no matter how big they are in real life. He was watching TV when we got there, and told us about his nurse and her plan to get her Master’s Degree. I think all of the nurses love him because every time they come in the room to give him pain medicine or check his vitals, they tease him a lot. At least in elementary school, teasing usually meant that someone really liked you. I’m sure it’s the same way in hospitals.

The walls in his room are very white, with large random squares of grey wallpaper on two of the walls (almost like they are marking the place where a picture should go) and some faded Catholic-looking art hanging next to the window. Still, it is nicer than the room he had last week, which was darker and smaller and looked out onto brick. I hope he gets to come home soon, where things have a bit more color.

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