The More Things Change

It now actually, I admit sheepishly, looks a little bit like a porn palace.

What used to be almost every weekend, but has dwindled down to barely one weekend out of the month for me, as my children Erin and Ian have gotten older, more independent, and more stubborn, we take the hour-long ride up the parkway to our weekend house.

"Weekend house" does not accurately define it. It's a seven-day-a-week house if there ever was one. It is my house, my family's house, the one I grew up in. It is a big, old, maintenance-heavy place with a damp basement, a dusty attic with bats, and a big yard with two waterfalls. Since my mom died and my dad moved to the city near us, we have kept it in the family and we use it. Since it is a seven-day-a-week house in size, we use it for more than just coming up and chilling for the weekend. We use it in ways that we certainly wouldn't if we lived up here full time.

For starters, one of the bedrooms is basically storage. That actually is true for lots of people, I suppose, even people who DO live in their home 24/7. It's nice for us, because it keeps us from having to figure out what to do with all this crap in our crackerbox apartment in the city. "What are we going to do with this??" "Oh, we can just take it up to the house on Friday."

Paul used to build model cars. Or "toy cars," as I called them. They were actually pretty cool, and a lot of work went into them, I'll give him credit. Little motors, little headlights, a professional-level paint job. He was part of a whole network of overgrown adolescents who slaved over their models, and met to race them on evenings and weekends. Every once in a while they used to have "enduras," these races that lasted several hours. During the course of an endura, the lights would be slowly dimmed into almost total darkness and eventually slowly raised again to simulate...yes...sunset and sunrise. Men would work in pairs with a car; one would drive, and one would be the "pit crew." Would I lie to you?

Well, even Paul moved on from this hobby eventually, but he did not want to give it up entirely. So he set up slot car track in the back half of the large living room in the house. Not something I would normally sit by and tolerate if this were our permanent residence, but hey, no harm on the weekends, right? And every once in a while, Paul's "racing partner" Rob, and his wife, Arlene, come to visit, and Paul and Rob and Ian have a delightful time blowing the cobwebs off those dumb old little cars. Arlene and I usually sit in the kitchen, drink wine and chat and, oh yes, roll our eyes.

Ian has taken up the drums, as a new member of the school middle school band. It's hard to get to be the drummer, as there is only one drummer at a time, maybe two. The previous drummer came into the school knowing how to play, so he got the job initially. But he moved away, and since there was no one else with any experience, Ian lobbied for the position,and got it. "I've made your son the new drummer," arrogant Mr. Brahms announced as he strode into my office one morning. (Isn't that a great name for a music teacher??) "So make sure he practices." Practices?? On what?? "Well, I will provide him with a drum pad and sticks, of course, but you may want to consider buying him some drums for home." Drums for home??

Well, like many red-blooded American men would, I imagine, Paul jumped on the excuse to add a drum kit to our inventory of unwieldy and little-used posessions. He started scouring Craig's List every night until he found a middle-aged lady who was weeding out her crap now that her son had left for college. Paul talked her down to a price they both could live with, stopped there after work one evening, and voila! We were drum owners. "But not here, Paul. Not here, Ian. Up to the house with those things." So now, on the weekends, Ian (and Paul) bangs away, "practicing." So much for lazy afternoons reading. But at least Ian sticks to practicing on a drum pad back in the apartment, and we don't have to worry about eviction notices under our door.

I have a little room up at the house that's all my own. It is a tiny, tiny room, too small to use as a bedroom. This was my father's "dressing room" back in the day. Why the hell he, and not my mom, got to use the room like this is beyond me; I wouldn't have stood for it one minute if I were her. But she didn't seem to mind; I guess it kept him out of the way during the morning routine.

Now it is no longer a dressing room. It doesn't have a name anymore, it's just my room. "It doesn't need a name, never mind what I'm doing in here...out!" It now actually, I admit sheepishly, looks a little bit like a porn palace.

I see I got your attention. I never had the opportunity before to have a room totally to myself to dress up before. I always shared a room with my sister or my husband. When I first had my own bedroom, I was still under my parents' roof, so ultimately, my mother had final say-so over my decorative flourishes. Not that she would have squelched any artistic impulses with an iron hand, far from it. I guess I shouldn't blame my folks; I basically squelched myself.

Anyway, once I had this little room to myself, one I could use for anything I wanted, one I didn't have to use for practical purposes like sleeping or storage, I went to town. Painted it pink. Not a wimpy pink, either, but PINK. That didn't quite do it for me, so I got another shade of pink, and sponge-painted over the first pink. Which, if you aren't familiar with sponge-painting, created a cool sort of velvety-looking texture to the walls. Then I painted the trim a nice deep lavender.

I planned to do a lot of my artwork in this room, so I installed my mom's old art table at the far end. Paul had replaced my parents old stereo turntable with updated audio equipment, so I put the turntable in my room too. Cool. I bought a tiny little TV/VCR combo. Paul was not a fan of these, and refused to bring me one home from his job, so I bought one myself at full price at another store. It was the only argument I can remember having during the re-creation of this room.

I needed a bulletin board, so I bought some cork squares, but they were depressingly BROWN in my colorful room. So I painted them with metallic gold paint. And while I was at it, I bought ropes and ropes of gold beads at an after-Christmas sale at the local mega-store. I tacked those in waves over my lavender-trimmed walls, and framed my bulletin board with them. I still had more, so I hot-glued them into curli-cues on the inside of my door. And with the leftover gold paint, I covered a couple of unfinished stools.

I was liking this gold. So I went to the fabric store and bought white and pink satin, and several yards of gold lame and gold strings of sequins and made curtains for my little window, and throw pillows for the floor. A plush cream-colored carpet remnant, cut to fit, and I was done.

I stood back. I couldn't believe it. It was so tacky. I thought it was beautiful.

I love my room. We've done a lot of things to this house, and no room is what is used to be. My old bedroom is the storage room. My parents' old room is the guest room. The little guest bedroom is Ian's room. My sister's big old bedroom is now the "master" bedroom. Ian, and Erin, when she even comes up, prefer to sleep on sofas downstairs, in the living room and the den (which was my Grandfather's room waaay back in the day.)

So nothing much is like it was then. But that's ok, 'cause it's how it is now.

And I'm still here.


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