A Room With A (Point Of) View

Filed under: Opinions, Siblings, Empty Nest, Relationships

Empty nest a room with a view

Does the grown-up Emily still have dibs on her room? Credit: Jeremy Gerard

Last time Emily came home from college, she busted me for stashing a few pairs of old jeans in the bottom drawer of her empty bureau. She smelled a coup in the offing. Give 'em one drawer and next thing you know they're redecorating and turning your private room, the room you grew up in, into a study-slash-guest-room and "temporarily" storing files on the teeny table you haven't been able to sit at since you were five, as if that mattered.

Besides, she pointed out -- rather unkindly, I thought -- I was as likely to ever fit into those jeans again as she was to get her knees under the teeny table. As if that mattered.Let me tell you about Emily's room. Her mom and I knew we were on the right track, marriagewise, when we separately, somehow, chose the same wallpaper from among hundreds, perhaps thousands, of samples. Emily wasn't even born yet. It's the palest yellow with a delicate, trellis-like floral pattern. It's girly, but not princess-y.

On one wall above her bed, there are 12 framed prints, in three rows of four, of Arthur Rackham fairies. On another is a bulletin board covered with a mix of 8x10 photos of heartthrobs and her BFF (forever indeed, same girl, going back to birth), stuck with multicolored push pins. There's a pale yellow bureau and a bookcase that briefly sparkles like fireflies when the light of the setting sun strikes her collection of miniature glass animals. And there's that spindle-leg table, which Leslie spent weeks lovingly painting and decoupaging.

On the transom above the door, five whimsical, hand-carved letters, gaily painted, spell out her name.

For city dwellers, we're lucky. Both of our kids have their own rooms and Leslie has a separate office in what, at an earlier time, was a maid's room. Still, space is at a premium, and my "office," such as it is, consists of half the common area that connects the two parts of our apartment.

Remain as a shrine or reassign? Credit: Jeremy Gerard

For years, I had an office at work that afforded me some measure of privacy and quiet, where I could work on my own projects during off-hours. Those days are gone, and suddenly my home office feels like Times Square, the noisy crossroads of our cozy world. I want a writing space, damn it, with a door I can close.

So the question naturally arises: Who has dibs on Emily's room?

Does it remain a shrine to the girl who grew up in it and who would really, really like everything to remain just as she left it? Or, does it become Emily's room/Dad's study/guest room, depending on the occasion?

Emily's school is close enough to make weekend visits easy and frequent, and we're a close-knit family. For now, her room is off limits to change. (I'm still not giving up the dream of fitting into those jeans, but in the meantime, they're stored ... well, let's just say they're somewhere I'm not going to divulge.)

But the painful truth is that her visits grow fewer and further between as she builds her own busy college life and prepares for the future. Next year, she'll graduate and who knows what will happen? Maybe she'll land a job in another city. Maybe she'll need to live at home for awhile as she gets her sea legs in the real world.

Of course, by then, my son Nick will have gone off to college. Let me tell you about Nick's room...

Related: Traditions Don't Have To Change, We Do

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.