My sister and I used to have hanging beads instead of a bedroom door. Hideous plastic multi-color beads that jangled when anyone entered and afforded absolutely no privacy. But we thought they were beyond cool. Smiley faces clanged with translucent purple. Running into the room to grab a forgotten bag or book, meant getting whipped in the face. They were horrible.
But, as any beaded bedroom door should be, it was short lived. The beads and all their character, their tackiness, soon gave way to a door. Though we started to value our privacy more, our room in some ways, still looked as if it could have a beaded door. It was an insane collection of colors, creatures, and designs. Our ceiling was painted in swirls and creatures, all of them hesitantly situated around our fan that over the years remained with only two blades. Even though our beds were bunked, the room was still quite small and filled with dressers and desks covered in candles, clutter, and an occasional printed cloth.
Our room was insane. An insane burst of Murphy Girl heightened when our alarm clock would blare either the Roots or the Monsoon Wedding song track moving us on our way to High School.
But the beds are un-bunked now and occupy separate rooms. The ceilings and floors are off-white covering up fish and bad poetry all written and drawn on our turquoise walls. Clutter has been removed and a bareness has settled over the house, warning visitors that no one truly occupies this space anymore. The house, its occupants, are all in transition.
One of my friends was telling me over breakfast about how her mother has a custom where she makes my friend change her sheets right before she leaves her house to go back to school or her apartment. She sleeps in them one more night and her mother leaves them on the bed till she comes back. She leaves the sheets slept in by my friend, so she’ll come back, so she’ll come back to her bed, so she’ll come back home.
When I arrived home from the airport, there was a just a comforter on my bed for show. No sheets. I grabbed a second comforter and slept on the first with a second on top. I could put on sheets, but perhaps it makes sense that there are none, because I am probably not coming back to this bed, this room, this house.
It may fit better to say I grew up in Malawi. I grew up after surviving life, projects, and much alone time, in a rural African village. Of course growing up is a process that is many pronged. Langston Hughes says that ‘Love is a growing up’ and Virginia Wolff says that ‘Growing up is losing some illusions, in order to acquire others.’ Maya Angelou makes some reference to how most people never grow up, they just age. Perhaps that is what I did in Malawi, a little bit of growing up, but mostly aging, thinking I could make home anywhere if I could carry my own water and build a fire. But really what I grew was more character, a little bit of muscle, and skill.
Sleeping, or trying to sleep in my old room, I felt growing pains. I grew a little bit when I realized that the creatures were painted over and that I probably won’t paint anymore creatures on ceilings. I grew more when my bunk bed was disassembled and I had no desire to re-assemble it. I grew even more when I realized I would probably fall down and grow up with each new love.I grew knowing how growing can be loving and knowing and losing it all and starting again. Painting over and painting anew. Growing to survive all those disassmeblings that make way for new assemblings. Growing up to grow on.