I’m feeling both lazy and nostalgic tonight and in lieu of posting an entry on fame, I will be pulling out an essay I wrote for my autobiographical writing class. I never got a grade on it – because I had to drop the class for medical reasons – and I would like honest opinions on what you would grade it if you were a college professor.
NOTE: Keep in mind this is a true essay and it isn’t short. I won’t be mad if you don’t read it, but don’t complain about the length, it had to be a minimum of so many pages.
The essay prompt reads: Think about the many places that you have lived or visited – places as large as a country or as small as a room. How have particular places shaped your sense of self and your life? Write an essay that tells a story about your relationship to a particular place – a good place or a bad place – and the effect that a certain landscape has had upon you (note that your choice of place does not need to be outdoors). Write an autobiographical essay about a specific location; tell a story that cannot be told without the detailed portrait of your surroundings and their effect upon you.
It was the room my mother dreaded entering, and at one point I believe she just tried to forget about it. Adorned with airplanes and red, white, and blue stripes as wallpaper, it was the perfect room for two children to spend an immense amount of time in. So, that’s what my older sister Jessica and I did. We loosely referred to it as “The Playroom” and it was quite possibly the coolest room two kids could ever ask for. A big toy chest over-filled with Cabbage Patch Kids, Barbie Dolls, Beanie Babies, and other various stuffed animals, a television set to spend hours playing video games, and the imagination of two young children was always ever present upon entering the Playroom’s door.
The room itself was almost always a mess. With the toys bursting from the lid of the chest and several sprawled out on the floor haphazardly, it was a wonder that Jessica and I could have any fun with the clutter. But, we always managed to do so. It was a second home to Jessica and me in that we really weren’t allowed to play extensively with our toys in our separate bedrooms. So, we played make-believe together. Our games usually involved the Beanie Babies and Cabbage Patch Kids, my favorites being where my baby-doll Olivia was the star of the game. I recall two Cabbage Patch Kids, Archie and Lester, who were always causing trouble in our games; I believe it was because they were boys. Of course, Jessica and I made up voices for our characters, ranging from high-pitched, throaty, and nasally. Jessica was always the best at the nasal voices!
I think my Mom realized that the Playroom was a great investment for her in that she did not have to worry about it all too much. Upon this insight, she bought two red lounge chairs and installed cable – to keep Jessica and me further occupied within the bedroom. To say the least, it worked. Though, what mother didn’t anticipate was the ability for two young girls to stay up late at night watching television and building forts out of the lounge chairs. “Look at me,” Jessica said, stretching her body across the two chairs, her stomach suspended in midair. I laughed of course, and amidst the laugh pulled one of the chairs from under her, watching her fall on the blue carpet belly first. She, of course, would repay the favor in later days.
In fact, it wasn’t always fun and games in the Playroom. Jessica and I were known to get into several fights. Either one of our games took a turn for the worse, or Jessica had a knack for aggravating me – mainly the latter. Each of us had an American Girl Doll; it was avery expensive doll, pricing in at over $100 each. Samantha was mine and Molly was Jessica’s. One day in a heated argument over who had the better American Girl Doll, I took Molly by the arm and threw her down the hallway outside the Playroom. “Samantha is prettier!” I screamed, watching Molly skid on the wooden floor. In retaliation, Jessica did the same to Samantha. Different story though. Jessica is two years my senior and has always been bigger and tougher than me, so the force of Samantha hitting the wooden floor evoked a different reaction. Samantha’s plastic arm flew from her body! “That’s what you get!” Jessica retorted with a glare. I was in tears! Fortunately, Samantha could be repaired. Unfortunately, Jessica and I were both severely punished for our antics.
Also among our activities was my beloved rocking horse. I had grown out of it at around seven or eight, so Jessica and I decided to be a bit more inventive and create something entirely different from it. We snuck into the kitchen and pilfered the meat tenderizer from one of the drawers and dubbed it the gavel while my rocking horse was renamed a judge’s court table. “Order! Order! Court is now in session!” I recall each of us declaring, banging the meat tenderizer harshly on the smooth wooden surface of the horse. Each of our toys was put on a heated trial, Beanie Babies for fraternizing with the Barbie Dolls, Cabbage Patch Kids for robbing the hotels, just about anything. Mother eventually found out about our exploits and was forced to hide the meat tenderizer so we wouldn’t further ruin it or the rocking horse. The Playroom will always hold mine and Jessica’s crazy games.
We always had fun with the VHS tapes that were in the entertainment center, but it wasn’t by watching them. For some odd reason, we rarely watched any of these movies. Instead, we stacked them up to make them appear like hotels. All of our smaller toys – like the ones we got for free at McDonald’s – took residence in these hotels, and we made up wild stories involving the Beanie Babies and Simba from The Lion King – each of them being booked for the same room! Also occupying the entertainment center was a television set and a Sega Genesis. In essence, this gaming system could be seen as a toy, but to me it was more like a treasure. My dad was an avid video game player, and I also enjoyed it. Gaming systems weren’t cheap, and for my dad to finally ‘pass down’ his old system said a lot! I finally had the privileges to play it at my heart’s desire! So when the Genesis was in my possession, I happily played PacMan and Sonic the Hedgehog. Jessica wasn’t too interested in the Genesis, plus she had a television in her room, so I usually horded the one in the playroom.
Jessica and I were happy to be in that room at all times. Well, except during the summers that evoked wasps to sneak in through the windows. We were terrified of wasps. End of discussion. If we caught wind of one in the room, our legs pumped faster than they ever could have thought. There were two windows in the room, which meant double the chances of wasps buzzing inside. I remember several instances where we were sitting in the clustered floor and there would be a lull in one of our games…then we heard it. The buzzing of the wasps, hitting the windowpanes as they tried to get through the already broken window screens, “Wasp!” Jessica screamed at the top of her lungs, her eyes wide with fear. When there was a wasp encounter, it was likely for neither of us to enter the room alone, in fear of being stung by the elusive wasps. Eventually, mother would face the jaws of death for us and kill the wasps, mainly because she didn’t want us back playing in our bedrooms, destroying them.
The Playroom will always hold so many memories for me, acting as an escape from the perils of childhood. It also gave me a strong relationship with my sister, bonding over the stories we created, the games we played, and the time aspect together. As much as my mother probably despised the appearance of the room, she probably enjoyed watching what occurred within it, her two daughters growing up together in love…that or she loved the fact her house was just a little cleaner because of our beloved Playroom.
Thank you so much if you read this. I really appreciate it!