Of all the religious beliefs out there in the world, the one I have always resonated with (aside from the religion I belong to) is animism. Animism is the belief is that all things from animals and plants to rocks, rivers, and words have some a life and spirit to them. There is an agency to them, an intentionality of their existence and that they all have their own wants and desires. It is considered of the oldest types of religion, and that most other forms of religion stemmed from this idea.
For me, this is a familiar feeling. Much to the chagrin of my mother, I tend to hold on to things. Once a memory is attached to a certain item, then it feels as if part of my very soul is connected with it. You might say, that’s just because you are a sentimentalist. I can’t argue with that, but for me, I have always wondered if everyday objects have wants and desires. If when using them for their creates purpose they are delighted and fulfilled, and when they are left to sit unused they feel dejected and alone.
All this personification aside, objects within our lives that have traveled with us take on a particular personalization. Like well-worn clothes, they seem to fit the curves and angles just right, or a pen starts to feel familiar in your hand. Now I want to tell you a story about one of these objects, one I’ve been with longer than most things in my life.
When I was told that I would finally have my own room, I was ecstatic. Finally, I wouldn’t have to share a room with my sister (at least not all the time). My five-year-old self didn’t understand the concept of privacy or the later significance of four walls to call your own would be, I only knew I wanted one. I was taken to my new room, a small multipurpose floor with sliding glass door to the outside, and an even smaller closet. At the time, I was the one who took up the least amount of space it made sense I would get the most modest space (that logic didn’t persist when I became bigger than both my mother and sister). I remembered being terrified of my room in the beginning. There were 4 doors in it and all of them held the boogieman.
Eventually, the glass door became nothing more than a window, my bed became larger along with my clothes. The fears of childhood left me, and I went from playing with blocks and legos on the floor to watching movies and reading on my bed. Being someone who spent a lot of time at home, my room was the most familiar place to me in the entire house. It became a sanctuary, a refuge for my the long nights and growing pains I experienced. It became a place to hide away when talking to other people was simply out of the question. It was my fortress of solitude where I could have any thoughts I wanted and not be judged. It was a consistency in my life, and the only time I would be separated from it was when my family would visit, and I would have to relinquish my room to my grandmother.
My room continued to evolve with time, filling with trinkets, nicknacks, and pieces of my life I thought were important at the time. My small room began to fill with memories I created, mixing the old and the new to make up who I was. In a way, it was a reflection of growth and proof of existence. Furniture came and went, it moved to different settings, feelings, and configurations but never grew to beyond the scope of those four walls. The room never changed in size or color but at times felt entirely new and different. It’s all I could ask for, and it made me happy.
By the time I entered college, I had started to feel the limitations bearing down on me. My spirit wanted more, and I was growing up and wanted to get a space without all the rules of home. I got my opportunity came when I went off to school. Only when I would come back to visit would it see me again.
My mother used the space as a spare bedroom for anyone who needed a place to stay in the meantime. It was then my room became stagnant, that it stopped growing with me and became a reflection of who I was before I left. This why after to years of growth and change we were thrust together again. It became flooded with new memories, and a new desire for it all at once and I was thrown back into my life before I left. I had finally realized what it was to grow beyond the 4 walls and now the space had felt like a prison. It confined me to the person who I was before I left, I know it didn’t do it on purpose, and it meant well, but the box was already open.
The room offered me a home, as it always had. Even through all the hardship, it was the familiar place to go back to at the end of the day. I learned all those hard lessons within its embrace, it sheltered me those dark sleepless nights.
When my mom told me I needed to look to moving out, I knew that my time in my room was over. Over the course of many months, I started to dismantle what my room was, piece by piece. Took the pictures off the wall, removed the items from my top shelf, emptied out my closet and bookshelf. I slowly began to see the white walls again, and the feeling that it was slowly becoming less of my room began to set in. At the end, all I had left was my mattress on the floor and empty bookshelf, and now even that is gone. All there is left is the memory, the marks on the wall, the patches in the paint, the stairs that lead to nowhere, the small marks and indent on the floor from my furniture. These are all memories etched into this room’s surface.The physical manifestation of time passing and lives being lived. I’ve had this room just short of 20 years and it is marked by our time together.
Eventually, when some else lives there, will they understand the dents in the wall, the scratches on the floor, the life I had in this room? To anyone else, these are just imperfections to be fixed, like how someone sees another person’s scars.
I am happy to have spent all this time in this room, and now that I am leaving it’s only fitting at taking a second to pause about the experiences one room can hold.
This room will probably not miss me as I miss it. I wanted to send my words out into the ether, hope in some strange way that it understand that I loved it and I couldn’t forget it even if I tried. Thank you for giving me 4 walls, a floor that I could spend so much of my life in. Seeing you empty even now feels so strange, but I hope that whatever you become next is filled with as much happiness, love, and memory that my stay there did.
Thank you for all the years, goodbye and good luck.