My mother has always had classic and extremely polished taste in her home decorating style, which she very deftly applied to all of the rooms in my house growing up – except for the unfinished basement that I was convinced was haunted by the ghost of a dead prom queen from an obscure urban legend I heard from an older girl in our neighborhood, who was clearly successful in her quest to scare me. ANYWAY.
Unlike our dark and terrifying basement, the bedroom I shared with my younger sister remains, quite literally, a bright spot in my memory. It was very yellow. Yellow looped carpet. Yellow striped curtains. Yellow brass headboards. Even the nightstand was a light yellow wicker hamper converted for our use. We also had matching white comforters with animals printed on the fabric in a very vintage Victorian style that perfectly complimented the starched eyelet dust ruffles and pillow shams. Every part of our childhood bedroom was orderly and pristine, the very picture of little princesses.
It was perfect, that is, apart from The Corner wherein sat The Table.
The Corner was (obviously) the corner in our room on the far side of my twin bed that I had claimed for my personal effects. Anyone out there who has ever shared a room with a sibling knows exactly what I am talking about, this need for your individual space within the shared quarters. If you could have installed an electric fence embedded in the carpet around the perimeter of your territory, you totally would have. But it always seemed as though your parents frowned on the idea of fitting your bunk buddy with a shock collar. So instead, you resorted to threats and general bullying to ensure that YOUR STUFF was left alone. I can feel you nodding your head.
So I had The Corner. And in this claimed zone I had The Table, which was a rickety folding table with bright red canvas stapled to the top that my mom had from her own girlhood. Somehow, I had gotten my grubby little hands on it and found it to be the perfect way to mark my land and organize my collections. And boy, did I have collections. Have I mentioned them before? No? Well, I collected (in alphabetical order, hopefully)…
BOOKS – which actually lived on a bookshelf near The Table, but they still counted.
COINS – preferably of foreign origin.
FOLDERS – mostly Lisa Frank.
GEMS – not to be confused with rocks.
HIGHLIGHTS MAGAZINES – as long as the hidden image pages had not been marked on.
HOTEL TOILETRIES – shower caps, soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, combs, floss… basically anything that was not nailed down.
PAPER – Mead lined notebook paper was ideal.
PENCILS – decorative ones that could not be sharpened lest they loose their collectableness.
PRESSED FLOWERS – like in my Samantha Parkington books.
RANGER RICK MAGAZINES
ROCKS – not to be confused with gems.
RUBBER BANDS – preferably colorful ones.
STAMPS – organized by region and country in a scrapbook.
STICKERS – that could not be stuck onto anything, not even the pages of the organizational sticker collection book my best friend had given me as a birthday present.
WRAPPING PAPER – only the ones with interesting patterns.
Shall I go on? I would bet my next paycheck that there are categories that my memory has let go of, but you get the idea. I had a passion for collections that almost matched the intensity of my love of organizing them. Each week after school I would methodically go through the items on The Table and place them in neat piles. And like any good builder, as my piles filled the tabletop I simply built upwards. So not only was there a mangy looking table stuck in the corner of our adorable room, but it was piled high with crap that looked like it came straight from a back alley flea market in Tijuana. In other words, it was the pock mark on the face of our sweetly decorated bedroom.
But I did not care one wink because it was mine. All of it. And I felt a deep connection with every single item heaped into The Corner. Until one day, the spell of my collections was broken when I came home to find my sister had not only stuck my stickers into the sticker book and sharpened every last one of my pencils, but she had done so while WEARING ONE OF MY SHOWER CAPS.
Abbey, you are lucky to be alive today. That’s all I am saying. Although maybe it was a good thing that I let go of my penchant for HORDING lest I end up on one of those reality television shows where a family intervention is necessary.