The walls of my room used to be lined with sketches, photos, racing bibs, and tape, lots of tape. Toes pressed against the iron edges of my bed frame or on the rim of my wooden desk, while one pinky pressed against an edge of some other surface, I found a way to reach most corners of my bedroom. At times the walls my mother and I lived in were rented or shared with family members. Nonetheless, the layers of my moments displayed upon sheets of paper loosely held by cheap tape, made these walls consistently my own. This was an argument my mother could never win. Memories of tape tests come to mind. With the mild worry that scotch tape somehow became sturdier overnight, I would lock my knees and hope with my heart that no paint would peel as I demonstrated to my mother these walls were safe.
Like small ghosts, each paper hung, and many fell awakening me in the night. On darker nights when larger pieces fell, I would simple tuck the covers under my toes, and count numbers until god told me it was my turn to sleep. In a world where Mexican myths find their way into children’s ear drums, but only in parts never completed by their parents, storytellers untrained, I found myself scared of sleep. The nights when I was visited by El Coqui and night sweats, I would manage to take my dampened body to my mother’s room where we come to share the night in her twin bed. She rested and I laid. We were like two fish swimming tale to head and head to tale, yet not entirely as there wasn’t much space for moving.
Other nights my mother would treat herself to a night of dancing with her girlfriends, leaving me to fend of my fears in solitude, yet I was never truly alone. With my self-identification plastered along the walls that framed a square of carpet I called workspace, I spent these nights creating. Sitting mid-center, I would dissect the architecture of the space nearest to me, while also picturing my part-time room at my father’s house. Diagramming how furniture and potential wall cut-outs could look, I decided my closet was the closest I would come to an “indent” within the wall. Based off my interior design sketch for my father’s place, I pushed my water bed into the closet. The tip stuck out like a tongue of kid in disgust. Imagining how curtains would look framing the bed (instead of closet doors), I pretended to be royalty looking upon the land of the now available space of barren carpet. Next to the bed, the sides still inside the closet, I had little storage hubs where I would keep my tools, such as snacks, blankets, bobble animal dolls, and of course arts and crafts. My father never objected to any of my oddities. Now looking back, I’d argue he played off my eccentrics for some time. Buying me gifts for the holidays, he would offer me a deal: you could open these gifts now if you promise to leave them here. Eager to be gifted new pens or a house for my miniature animal toys, I would often cave.
Unknowingly, I began to distinguish the purpose of my rooms. My room at my father’s house became a realm for play, and an area where I had more say in the positioning of my pieces. My father’s leniency was my granted liberty. My mother’s place begged for tools like lined and blank paper, pastels and crayons, and two different pairs of scissors. This was her place away from a world of nonsensical work, so I abided by her rules of clearing the floors, making my bed, and keeping my closest organized. Of course, on those nights alone the floor would become as lively as the walls that would surround my arts and crafts. Covered by paper clippings and folded sheets with scribbled mistakes, there was no room left for any learned myths.