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My room is both a sanctuary and a prison. I love to hate it.

It isn't really a room, if the definition of a room is four walls and a door. It's more of an indentation, a divot of unused space off of the rectangular half of my sister's room. The short side of an L, the top quarter of a T; either option works, but neither truly describes it. One of those strange things about a custom-built house is the number of unexplained areas. My room happens to be one of those pockets, totally necessary but not really needed at the same time.

We've talked for years of hanging curtains so that my half would be separated, but somehow those plans got lost between layers of activities. Between the dentist appointments and soccer games, the band rehearsals and the family gatherings, we weren't able to squeeze decorating into our schedule. The walls remain sadly bland, a blue so pale it is nearly white. They are adorned with a collection of strange odds and ends, from the patriotic, flag-shaped light cover to the ancient wall hangings of ballet bears. "Mary's Room", the tutu reads as its wearer demonstrates a perfect split. My great-grandmother sewed one each for my sister and me over a decade ago, back when her hands were sure and able to pull each meticulous stitch. Now her eyes are weak, almost blind, and her fingers are watery. Her idle hands produced a frustration and an anger that soon was invincible wherever she went, the hurt and helplessness overwhelming her hardworking personality. Even now, my eyes traipse off to the dancing bear when I am alone in my room, and I wonder if I will take it down once Great-Grandmom dies. I wonder when she will die. Then I become disgusted with myself and storm out of the place, without even a proper door to slam on my way out.

But then later on as I am tucking myself in I realize that nothing about my room will change. It hasn’t before, why should it now? It alone remains my constant in an ever-changing world.

Every surface is touched by the presence of a trinket, without a single exception. Some of them are sorted; all my beach souvenirs reside atop my dresser. However, most are randomly and hastily placed. Whenever I acquire a new object, it usually waits in a pile on the edge of my space, myself being unable to overcome my procrastinator tendencies. As soon as the stack reaches apparently monstrous proportions (I can ignore it, but my mother can’t) I am forced to find a place for all the knick-knacks. I rush about the room, arranging the stuff spontaneously, then move on to another chore. Only later do I realize that the lava lamp shouldn’t really go by the California pinecones, and the pencils would do better on my desk rather than my bedside table. But by then I feel guilty moving them, because already my eyes are becoming acclimated to the sight. I never lose anything in my room because everything has a place, even if that place is somewhat odd when the actual item is considered. If only another slice of my life was so lovingly and nonsensically organized rather than the “complete chaos” or “strictly regimented” alternatives. I smile at my broken clock on the bookshelf and think of my candy stash under the bed. Such odd places, and yet, to me, they are almost more practical than the common assignments.

But alas, my room has a flaw; it is my room. It is my lone perfection, trapped in an unrelenting house in which I cannot permanently stay. Every day, I must brave the onslaught of reality, trudging through a mundane life that is neither thoughtfully knitted nor thrillingly wild. And yet every night I return to my nest of blankets and wish I was somewhere, anywhere, but here. It seems the more time I spend in my room, the more I want to leave. Other people are out there, doing great things and meeting people and falling in love. Why can’t I be one of those people?

Alone in the dark, listening to my sister mutter in her sleep, I know the answer: the safety of my room is too ideal to ignore. Half of me wants to stay in its protection forever, and half of me never wants to see it again. Why must I be so confusingly torn? Why can’t have one orientation, laid out smoothly and neatly as the sheets on my sister’s bed? Destined to be tangled, trapped in a whirlwind of indecision and fear, I bite my nails and sweat myself to sleep.

And in this way my room has failed me. I hate to love it.



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