There are new curtains and a change of wallpaper. It’s plainer now, more neutral, but cared for just the same. Odd ornaments remain, but they’re selected to decorate, not the mismatch items picked out by a teenage girl. (Or perhaps these were the only ones that I left behind when I moved out.)
The drawers are filled with unfamiliar clothes and the side is stacked with mail and tit-bits that don’t belong to me. The wardrobe, once filled with toys and books houses beer, old paperwork and whatever bits and pieces that are without an alternative home.
Some things, however, remain, like old photos, faded in the frame because no one ever thought to change them. The faces are still familiar, old friends and family, changed with time, the altered faces of those long grown up or moved away.
There are other things too, accumulated over a decade of moving away and coming home: jewellery, a sugar bowl that’s always been too awkward to pack, comfy sweaters to rely on during weekend visits, weekends home.
Other things are more significant, and one day they’ll make it into a box and to wherever I finally settle: my wedding dress, pressed and clean, will go into my loft for future reminiscent moments. The left over centre piece and silk flowers from that special day will decorate my own house, my marital, not childhood, room.
If these walls could talk, they’d have some tales to tell. They’ve witnessed the sobs of a baby and a child, the tears of a girl and a woman. These walls have been a nursery, playroom, bedroom, guest room and, more recently, a spare room.
But it’s remained constantly Helen’s room. A room that is always tidy when I return to it, with fresh sheets and a familiar smell. The heating, off for the weeks and months when it is empty, warms the room again. The shelves are clean and dusted. This room has not been properly lived in for over 10 years, but it remains a constant in my life, in a world where constants are hard to come by.
A bedroom is just bricks and mortar. It’s a box to keep your things in. But it’s also a place to hide from prying eyes. A place of peace and quiet. A place that’s seen you grow, laugh and cry.
If these walls could talk, they’d tell you a life story. The good, the bad and the ugly. If these walls go on looking, who knows what they’ll see. More secrets and more laughs, I’m sure. Late-night diary writing. Visitors and extended family.And of course me, home and returned to these safe and familiar four walls.