The room was smaller than I remembered. The steps leading up to it were steeper, the light was dimmer and the slope of the ceiling in the attic made it more difficult to stand and maneuver. But this was my old bedroom and I was there to say goodbye.
For the better part of the 1960s, the room had been my “apartment at home,” through half of my high school years and college. After breaking loose from the tiny room I had shared with my two brothers, I eagerly assumed the role of teenage male interior decorator, dragging in a table, desk and television immediately and following with a steady stream of hi-fis, each something of an improvement over its predecessor.
I transformed the cozy space into what passed for a communication/entertainment center in those days with an extension telephone (at $1 a month), shortwave radio, comfy easy chair and covered the walls with posters of James Dean, W.C. Fields, Mae West or whoever was in vogue at the time. My tee-totalling, non-smoking parents uncharacteristically allowed me to smoke and drink (once I reached legal age) in my room, privileges I would not extend to my own children many years later.
Many of my memories from that era are tied to that bedroom. But my parents moved this week, out of the house they built themselves 60 years ago. I had the rare opportunity to spend one last night in my old room. This time, though the room was mostly empty, occupied by just a few boxes – some with memories to save, others targeted for an upcoming yard sale and the rest headed for recycling or disposal.
It wasn’t particularly comfortable, trying to sleep on a camping mattress, but it was an opportunity too rich to ignore. Besides the flood of memories that bind families even tighter in times of moves like this, it’s also a chance to say goodbye to another big part of our family histories – our former homes. If you have that opportunity, I highly recommend taking it.
Photo: Corner of Larry Lehmer's bedroom in 1965 (courtesy: Larry Lehmer)