birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Columns of Ballerinas

My childhood bedroom was upstairs in our pale yellow Seattle Cape Cod home, a house my parents had painstakingly remodeled just before their divorce. The room was full of light, the wallpaper had pink ballerinas in columns, the ballerinas were the size of Barbie dolls. My mother must have picked out the wallpaper and applied it before I was born. Wallpaper was something she mastered and applied in many rooms in our home, I remember her applying the thick paste and lining up the patterns carefully to match, often atop a ladder. I loved to page through the wallpaper catalogues with her, how she chose a pattern was a mystery to me. I had trouble imagining how the patterns would look once they were applied, but she could see it.  

I spent a lot of time alone in my room, it was the default punishment for disagreeing with my mother. I’d be sent to my room until I wanted to behave. When I was very young I came out of my room and announced “I’ll be-a-have now mommy, I’ll be-a-have!” Plaintive, wanting to belong. As I grew older I would just sit angrily in my room for hours showing her that I didn’t need her, and I didn’t need to come out of my room. I had a twin bed, my room was across the hall from my older brother’s, at the top of a staircase that overlooked the foyer of the front door.  

I had a doll crib that I would sleep in when I was 3 or 4. I had a closet. I had a large wooden toy chest with a felt clown appliqué on the outside that was a gift from an elderly neighbor. My sheets were a soft yellow floral pattern. My blanket was yellow and soft with satin edging.

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