It’s a room with clean white walls, hardwood floors, and a blue rug. There’s a big window at the rear of the room, open to the breeze, and white curtains that lightly billow. In the middle, there’s an old mahogany desk with lots of drawers, and a comfortable chair — sometimes blue, sometimes brown. I am wearing a warm gray sweater, and feeling something so profoundly different that I know I’ll wake up every morning for the rest of my life and have that one startled moment of disbelief before I comprehend that it really is mine — this room of my own. This place that feels like home, steady under my feet, worn and sun-bleached in all the right places, humming with such a calm sense of place that even during the night storms, when thunder splits the sky and rain beats against the windows, I feel nothing but gratitude.
Some things really never do change. I’ve imagined the same room since I was nine years old.
I also fell in love with Vincent Van Gogh in grade school, and I still get lost in his night skies and fields of flowers. There’s something about his heavy-handed painting that makes me ache — that makes me want to jump into the scene and find comfort in the company of the Potato Eaters, or to reminisce alone under the awning of the Night Café.
I didn’t know then that Vincent and I shared a birthday. When I found out, it felt like an eerie, beautiful connection — even if one that was created out of nothing more than my want for a brother who could light a night sky with yellow swirls and ease the lines of weathered faces. Warren Beatty could never do that, even though he was also born on March 30th. I wonder if my mother remembered that detail from some horoscope section somewhere – I can’t imagine any other reason she would have picked Warren’s name when, in fourth grade, I asked who my father was. I actually believed her for two months, and read everything I could find about the actor and his sister Shirley at the Washoe County Library. I was such an idiot when it came to my mother. She never stopped lying, and I never stopped wanting to believe her.
In Minnesota today, it’s some ungodly number of degrees below zero. The wind is whipping up snow in cold swirls, the lights are flickering on and off, and I’m feeling the type of restlessness that comes from wanting to be somewhere else, not just in winter but in life.
However, like the room of my own, the dream of “somewhere else” is elusive. At 46, I still feel my desperate teen days of walking the highways and scrounging for food and friends in bus stops too viscerally to ever want to repeat the experience. Through four states and countless cities, I’ve learned – there’s more to leaving than merely being gone. There has to be a safe harbor, money to make it through the rough spots, a plan, a job. And right now, realistically, I’m at least three or four years away from making all of those things come together.
So I stand where I stand. And there’s a gnawing in my gut that won’t go away, no matter how many yellow swirls I imagine in my night skies, or how many weathered faces I seek to ease.
I’ve written a lot of crap lately, and I apologize to those who come to this blog looking for something better. The restlessness has gotten to me, and there’s a feeling of being torn between a world where I need the support of people, specifically you, and my turbulent interior world, where the story of Mila is scratching to get out – but I’m so afraid of spending/wasting more time writing another rejected novel. There are only so many years left, and the roads are narrowing with each one that passes.
And I’m not oblivious, although I often wish I could be. A hurt world is seeking humor and finding relief in comedy. Even bathroom comedy is more welcome than reality right now. When there is a drama, people want a happy ending. They want the slumdogs to miraculously become millionaires. They want the child actors to be lifted up out of poverty in a day, in a month, and they are willing to suspend every other truth in order to create a scene that’s as simple as good vs. evil – and where good, in all of its innocence, ultimately triumphs. Life is just not that clear-cut, but that’s another story.
This story is about standing where I stand, and knowing that there’s no solid foundation under my feet, and no room of my own or redemption on the horizon. And somehow, ironically, I have to make peace with that.
Starry, starry night.
Paint your palette blue and grey,
Look out on a summer’s day,
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul.
Swirling clouds in violet haze — swirling clouds of snow. And somewhere, someplace, someday. . .a room of my own.