Alternate titles include-
Even Bohemian Princesses Have Day Jobs.
Peter Pan Pays His Bills Online.
Adults Are All Pretending To Know Anything.
Grass Stains Don’t Come Out Of White Things.
I am in love with romance.
When I moved to this house, it was the middle of February. It was cold, and there wasn’t a fridge, and my room was bare of anything that would make it mine. The walls echoed for their emptiness, and looking at it sometimes, it felt like I would never be able to get it to what I wanted from it. How was I supposed to remember all of the little things I viewed as cupboard necessities? What if I forgot something obvious? Had I remembered to buy sugar? We didn’t have any toothpicks- there had always been toothpicks before.
There was, however, something I liked in the drabness of my mattress on the hardwood floor. I secretly liked having to keep anything chilled on the back porch, where the milk would freeze on a daily basis and stay fresh for weeks. It was my house, and each little gesture was an announcement of my freedom.
Valentine’s day came and went, and me and my roommate got each other ridiculous gifts and congratulated each other on our independence. “Happy Valentine’s Day,” we said, even though we meant “Good Job Being An Adult.”
When the month turned over and it switched to March, the snow slowly began to melt, though the brisk, cutting wind stayed. I had friends over whenever I wanted and one time, we stayed up watching an entire anime, nodding off for seconds at a time during slow parts, and sipping too-hot tea for something to keep us awake and because there was nothing else in the house to eat.
My roommate would drive us to work and roll down his window to smoke, and the fumes made me cough. The breeze was chilling, but there was a delight to being grown up enough to carpool.
Ask any 20-something college student, and they’ll have a few of those “Omg- I’m an adult,” moments. It’s a thrilling, secretive joy, where you look at yourself and think “A real adult would be so proud of me for doing this.”
And yet it’s sad, because you look around and everyone who looks at you thinks you are a real adult, and you realize that buying towels is a necessity, and you grab a package of sweets on the way to the checkout to make yourself feel better.
Of course, you’re allowed to buy however many sweets you want, and that starts you feeling like an omg-adult all over again.
In April, snowdrops flowered, and crocuses began to poke their tiny indigo heads through the grass. My mother had planted them when she moved to this house almost 20 years ago, in the hopes that they would spread across the yard and form an azure carpet of blossoms. However, in a tiny practical joke at which only she laughs, Mother Nature had confined each bulb to its original place, and instead of a carpet, we have tiny dottings of blue, peeking between the grass and telling us that spring has, despite the best attempts of winter, sprung.
They either die or get mowed down with the first round of the lawn mower each year, but for a precious handful of days each spring, they bloom, and have done for nearly two decades.
The magnolia tree down the street that I and my siblings climbed and fell out of for years slowly donned its pink party dress. I had memories of these flowers lasting for seeming endless weeks, but to my dismay, within two, the petals were dropping and withering to brown.
I was presented with the possibility that perhaps I hadn’t grasped time so well as I’d believed, and it was saddening.
I quietly mourned the tree and its mortality, and yet I secretly cheered my lawn as the crocuses grew, blossomed, and then slipped back into their bulbs until next year.
The grass was growing at an astounding rate, and I was unreasonably proud of it. Walking down the sidewalk each day to go to work, the shaggy blades hung over into the path in a forest of green. How incredible that the drizzling, miserable storms could make something so lush.
I put off mowing the yard for three weeks, because I was just so tickled with how abundant my lawn was. When I finally conceded, some places took two go-rounds to subdue.
Now, it’s May. The heat is beginning to arrive, though it’s only a sample of the oppressive, damp waves to come. The irises have already flowered in their long-necked glory, then slowly bowed their yellow or purple heads to the ground, and died out. Not a day goes by where I don’t hear someone in some distant house mowing their yard, and I’ve been kept awake by a particularly industrious neighbor, weed-whacking their fence line. Never mind that I’m trying to sleep at nine AM- that’s just plain invasive.
Even so, walking from my door to the gate, there’s a patch of clover that has taken root under the fence. It’s thick and stubborn, and yet I love it with a fierceness that few people inspire.
When I was little, our back yard was covered in the stuff. I could lay down and stretch my limbs as far as I could reach, and still be surrounded by the tiny ivory blossoms in a way that felt unending and massive. To me, clover symbolizes everything immortal about this house. It’s watching the sun set and smelling the damp from the shady spot that never dries between rains as you crawl through underbrush- it’s playing endless games of hide and seek and building forts and digging holes and climbing trees in the back yard that to a child, is an infinity far greater than NASA can grasp. Worlds exist in that back yard, tangible worlds, with languages and cultures and timelines all their own. Beat that, Curiosity.
So I don’t mow that spot. I let it grow, and I admire the blossoms and thick green leaves and I remember rolling through patches of it, drinking in the beauty before my father mowed it down.
I have these little things, like worn-down paint on wood, or the low hum of the whole-house fan that one parent or the other would turn on every single summer night, that will always make me feel like I’m home.
Sometimes it seems to me that these things are universal- that everyone finds their solace in them. How could one not enjoy the smell of the night air, as it pushes the curtains aside in undulating waves? How can you not drift off to sleep to the sound of the fan’s motor, just outside your door? These things are as much a part of my childhood as is learning to ride a bike.
And yet, they are unique.
At one point, while sitting in my room, my boyfriend told me that he was sure that everyone who had freshly moved out of their parents’ house put up Christmas lights. He said this as if I should put away such childish things and move on to something like lamps- as if to imply my enjoyment of them was a shameful thing, to be enjoyed in youth, and grown out of with the acquisition of sense.
I looked about my room at no less than four strands, draped and piled and tucked. The technicolor bulbs shine softly at night, providing an ambiance that nightlights never have. From the street, my sheer curtains glow with the greens and blues that sit on the corners, and I know that that one, that one right there, is irrefutably mine.
“I’ve always had christmas lights,” I told him. “Even when at home. It’s just something I do.” And it really is.
The christmas lights belong in my room as much as my bulletin boards do. As much as my battered bookshelf, which I salvaged from a garage sale so many years ago that my family still lived in this house. I carry it everywhere, and I love it because I am capable of doing so.
When I turn off the lights and look at my room, the street lamp outside provides a sickly yellow glow from the window. But it is outshone by the steady primary colors of my lights, playing off the two mirrors and various pieces of jewelry and embossed card stock about my room. My room glows like a firefly, and it is where I feel the safest in the entire world.
I am hopelessly in love with the romance of my life. I write quotes that mean something to me on the paint of the walls with a sharpie.
I sit on the counter and sip my tea.
I put my mattress on the floor because the idea of that is so much more romantic to me than a wobbly, cumbersome bed frame.
I climb trees with my best friend and laugh at her boyfriend watching us from below, scolding us and being embarrassed for us.
My legs are scraped and I’ve scrubbed mud and grass stains off of them both of the past two days.
I turn my music up so loud that I can’t hear myself screaming the lyrics along with it and I roll my windows down to let the night breeze in while I drive home.
There is no great screenplay to my life.
But it is overflowing with romance.