Sunday, July 02, 2006

trading spaces

I'm an artist mom, too, and as a mom I'm subject to the rules of limited space and use in a house occupied by five people and two cats. Well, four people and two cats now, and that is how I finally got my studio. There is a temptation I think, when something traumatic happens to someone in a family and they no longer occupy their old space, to make a shrine out of what remains-a study, a bedroom, a closet, some space that says "I lived here". My son's room was no exception. At least while his "stuff" was in the room, it was like nothing ever happened, or he'd return just anytime. And for awhile, you hold onto threads of impossible hope, believing somehow that it isn't that bad, that time could be reversed or some miracle might happen to alleviate or change the inevitable.

At first after he was gone, I cleaned. And cleaned. And rearranged stuff and cleaned. I did it so quickly after he was arrested the police were concerned I was hiding things. I wasn't. A mom can't stand people tramping around a dirty room looking for, well...I don't know what they were looking for-DNA I suppose. It was my son's room and I didn't want them to see it filthy or full of personal things they might jump to wrong conclusions about. Which they did anyway. I could not think of my son's room as a crime scene or a public display.

After all the cleaning, and then the sentencing, it seemed any miracle we were hoping for beyond the ones we had received were not forthcoming. It was then that I realized, really-why leave a room the same for five years or more? The boy that left will be man upon his return, and a man who has been separated from his "stuff" and memories for a long time. I had to make a choice then. I had to choose to move on and I had to choose to move on for myself. Something inside me was repelled by the idea of taking this space and making it mine, as though it were somehow selfish. Yet I began to feel the more selfish choice would be to not redo the room as a studio, a place I could be alone and work, accomplish what I was created to accomplish. I was already taking up space in the family living area, and this would allow me to have a private room. We sold the bed to a little girl who was ready for a "big girl" bed. I hope she has many happy memories in her room, maybe coloring on the bed or day-dreaming, filling out a diary, sleeping peacefully. I ripped up the carpet, painted the dark walls a bright blue, put up new curtains and created something peaceful.

I think now that maybe this room is more his than it ever was, because we share a space. He gave me his room, and I give him my hope of something better for him. A new space.


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