Place Essay

Yours, Mine, and Ours

My childhood bedroom is a dense network of life. I remember moving into our house when I was just four years old. A family with a young girl about my age had lived there before me and I vividly remember the wall inside my then-new bedroom being plagued with Winnie-the-Pooh stickers. But over the years, these stickers have faded and my room has been filled with my very own childhood and teenage memories.

When we first moved in, my sister Ava was only an infant, so my parents told me I could pick whichever room I wanted. I still remember how exciting that was for me. I scoped out the two bedrooms I could choose from, and even though the one I chose was smaller, it had the better view. When I looked out the window, I was greeted with a beautiful glimpse of our backyard, full of trees with fiery red, lemony yellow, and vivid orange foliage. I knew I wanted that view every autumn. After I picked my bedroom, I got to decorate it how I liked. As you can imagine, this was all very exhilarating for a four-year old. I looked at paint swatches with my mom, going through an endless number of purple and green hues. I still remember the color I chose: watermelon green. It was a happy color, but my mom said I should choose something lighter.

“Tara, you have to pick a color that you’ll like even when you’re a teenager. It has to be more neutral,” she said to me.IMG_0938.JPG.jpeg

“Yeah, yeah,” I replied, disgruntled and thinking to myself ‘neutral’ equals ‘boring.’

Being a pretty obedient child (at the time), I agreed and chose a more subdued light green. It was most definitely not what I wanted, but I let it go. To this day, I laugh when I look at my walls, reminiscing about the day that I chose that color fourteen years earlier. Over the years, my bedroom has grown to be the place that is closest to my heart.

I often think about the posters that have accumulated on my wall, peeling off at the corners, pictures of friends and family tacked to my bulletin board, and my treasured stuffed animals that rest atop my shelf. My bed is the focal point of my room, resting in the center next to my desk on one side and my nightstand on the other. My closet sits adjacent to my door, probably almost empty now that my sister has free rein with my belongings.

Growing up, my younger sister was both my biggest supporter and the biggest thorn in my side. I often think back to the day I was lounging on my bed, and heard my bedroom door creak open. I immediately knew who the culprit was; sure enough, the creaking of the door was followed by none other than my pesky younger sister peeking her head around the door. Ava never knocks, always barging into my room as she pleases, usually to ask (or rather demand) to borrow something. Usually I would roll my eyes and reluctantly wave her in, but remembering the fact that I was about to leave for college in three days, I smiled at her and watched as her slender frame crossed the threshold from the upstairs hallway to my sacred space. She stands tall at five feet six inches, prompting questions about who the older sister is wherever we go.

“Need help packing?” I remember her sing-songy voice asking me. I nodded, gesturing to the piles upon piles of clothes and shoes strewn all over my bedroom. “Jeez, I can barely see the floor,” she joked. I shot her a look but laughed, realizing that our time together was more limited than ever. She’s four years younger than me, and I’m the first child in the family to go off to college so it’s tough on both of us. Plus, she’s an expert at folding clothes neatly and I’m an expert over-packer so naturally, we make a good team.

As we were debating which clothes I should take with me or leave at home, she pulled my favorite white halter top out from under one of the many heaps of clothing. She gave me the look and smirked at me.

“No, no, 100% no,” I said calmly, at first.

“Please, please, Tara, please!” she exclaimed.

“Hmm, let me think about this,” I pondered sarcastically. “You want to keep my favorite top to wear here in New Jersey, while I’m moving to the south in the summertime. No way,” I said incredulously.

After begging and pleading for about ten more minutes, she gave up – or so it seemed. I made sure to personally fold the top and place it in my suitcase. We continued packing my clothes and chatting about college until we could finally see my bedroom floor again.

When itIMG_8436.JPG.jpeg was time to leave, we said our goodbyes, and my parents and I drove down to Oxford, Georgia. As I was unpacking, I realized I couldn’t find the classic white halter top. Again, I immediately knew who the culprit was: my sister. When I called her, I heard laughing on the other end of the line, and instantly knew she had taken my shirt. Although I was angry at first, I started laughing with her. I thought my sister genuinely wanted to help me with packing out of the goodness of her heart, but it soon became apparent that her true intention was to steal my shirt.

Ever since that incident, my sister has only continued to take over my bedroom. Oftentimes she Facetimes me and I find myself asking, “Is that my room?” or “Are those my shoes?” Slowly, my sister is becoming a real threat to my room. I know that as her belongings begin to make themselves at home in my bedroom, the more time she will spend in there. After I went to college, I was worried my room would be empty. It seems that I have nothing to worry about.

Although I let it go most of the time, my sister practically living in my room stays on my mind until the moment I see my dad’s car pull up to the curb from behind the revolving doors of Newark Airport. Dragging my fifty-pound suitcase behind me, I venture out into the warm New Jersey weather and greet my dad as he gets out of the driver’s seat to help me with my excessive number of bags. I get into the passenger seat and we begin the forty-minute drive home, chatting about my second semester of college and how happy we both are that I’m home.

After catching up a bit, I ask him the dreaded question: “Has Ava completely taken over my room?” I see a smile spread across his face, and he lets out a chuckle.

“She has,” he affirms my worst fear.1.jpeg

I audibly let out a sigh and slump down in my seat. Rolling my eyes, I let out under my breath, “She doesn’t know what she’s got coming.”

As we pull into my driveway, I take in the familiar sights and sounds of 7 Field Point Drive. I’m greeted by the towering oak on the front lawn, its branches teeming with emerald green leaves, and the wooden swing that hangs off of it (courtesy of my dad’s handiwork). My eyes move from the hues of the red and brown bricks to the wooden double-doors adorned with brass handles. The familiarity puts a smile on my face. My dad puts the car in park and kindly gets my luggage out of the trunk as I greet my mom at the door. After we catch up, I run up to my room, a sinking feeling coming over me. I can’t believe what I see: my bedroom is a warzone. My sister has essentially made my room an extension of hers. Any trace that indicates my existence is gone.

My eyes are initially drawn to my bare wooden floor. The rug comprised of individual six-inch by six-inch unique patterns is nowhere in sight. While my blood begins to boil out of anger, my feet remain frozen from the lack of carpeting under them. I look at my desk next. All of my yearbooks and other trinkets are gone; they have instead been replaced by my sister’s excessive amount of makeup. My desk has now become her personal beauty counter. Her spare set of turquoise sheets and matching comforter now encase my bed – my cream-colored down comforter is nowhere to be found. I stare in disbelief at how much my room has changed. As I look to the right side of my room, I notice that my bulletin board no longer has any relevance to me or my life. Old birthday cards, drawings, and pictures are gone. Instead, they are shrouded with my sister’s belongings; most prominently, a Beyoncé poster next to a matching set of concert tickets that read “best day ever!” in her coiled handwriting. I can’t help but to smile at her innocence, but it’s not long until rage quickly fills me once again. The ecosystem that is my bedroom no longer feels like my sacred space.

“AVA!” I scream at the top of my lungs.10411327_10152694819479505_1913592895417985671_n.jpg I hear her heavy footsteps bounding up the stairs, and soon her head peeks around the door like it did the day she “helped” me pack for college.

“I cannot believe what you’ve done to my room!” I yell as loudly as I can despite the fact that she’s two feet away from me. “It looks like your things threw up all over my room,” I continue angrily. At that moment with my adrenaline pumping, I feel like a lion whose den is under attack.

“I know, I know, and I’m sorry,” she tries to reason with me. As I take in another breath to continue my reprimanding, she stops me. “It’s just because I missed you while you were at school. Being in here makes me feel like I’m with you even when you’re 800 miles away.”

Even though I think it’s partly a cop-out, I smile. It’s my first time being home in four months, and I’ve missed her too. I pull her into an embrace while simultaneously telling her, “We’re moving you out.”

I’m home now and my bedroom will be my bedroom, at least for the summer.

Tara Vakili
tara.vakili@emory.edu

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