Late summer cleaning: Decluttering my room brings me to well-traveled roads. Everything I touch feels or smells like time: last week, month, year or decade. My room aggregates time.
But not just this room. I've inhabited rooms all my life, fortunate as I am to have had roofs over my head. Only by choice have I slept outside a room--from camping under the stars, backpacking across the country or passed out drunk on a stranger's couch.
My first room--one of my own--had tan shorn short carpet covered in down feathers slowly de-fluffed from my down comforter through small growing holes. I shared an apartment with my older sister after I left the home I shared with my husband for nearly 9 years. We were on hiatus. Six years of separation. And this room was the first I called my own, having shared all my other rooms from birth to age 29.
Though the circumstances of my landing in this room in an apartment complex settled below the hump of a freeway on ramp dampened the excitement of this first time experience, still I marveled at the possibilities: stamp my own identify into the fabric. Finally, I could fill a space with me, pieces of me in art, furnishings, bed sheets and comforters, knick knacks--all my choices.
As it turned out, however, I'd only half live in that space and the only addition to the bland, bare tan room, bed and dresser I unloaded moving in was the escaped goose down feather floor covering. Between obsessive work hours and mad dash dating, I hardly spent time in that room I slept in for two years before I bought a house, where I lived for another three or four years before moving back into my marital home, where now, 21 years later, I have my own room--sort of, mostly--to clean.
Pamela Gerber is a college English instructor, freelance writer, editor, wife, mom to daughters and caretaker to aging parents, who lives in sunny Southern California.