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Four Walls

Emptied of furniture, but full of memories: Daniela De Vera captures the eerie feeling of returning to a childhood bedroom.

Like many of you, I went back home for the holidays. 

I walked into my bedroom with the expectation that it would be further altered since the last time I visited. Maybe it was an office now, or possibly a miniature gym. I held onto the sliver of hope that my bed, at least, would still be visible. As I stood by my door frame with my small luggage in tow – hopefully holding enough clothes to last a couple of weeks – and my other hand juggling a handbag, water bottle, hat, phone and keys, I was weighed down more by the four walls of my childhood before me than by the items I was holding. 

It suddenly seemed smaller – too small. The whiteness of the four walls were more prominent, left naked ever since it was stripped of its character during the process of moving out. The shelf in the corner sat half-empty, most of the books that used to occupy it now in my big-girl apartment in the city. Stacks of work files littered my desk, blending in with the walls. It was a prison for my youth.

Everyone talks about how your twenties are the pinnacle of your existence. It is a time of finding your footing in the ‘real’ world, a period in which you are given full autonomy in your life. You are given the reins of responsibility so abruptly that adulthood seems almost beyond your capabilities. 

Then you go home for the holidays and you’re hit with this nostalgic feeling, and you’re happy to be back but also sad. You’re happy because you get to see your pet who you haven’t seen in months, but you’re sad because you’re reminded that this short period of familiarity will soon come to an end. But then you’re happy again because you have a chance to meet up with your high school friends. Then, the all-time low greets you when you have breakfast with your parents, and the sunlight accentuates their wrinkles and grey hairs and you realise that they, too, are getting old.

I laid in bed drowning in nostalgia, everywhere I looked was a trigger for what used to be there but is now missing. From the ceiling no longer strung with the fairy lights of my adolescence, to the empty wall before me, once covered in posters and photos, to the door frame that held remnants of my childhood memories – polaroids framing the entrance and exit of my youth.

We sometimes don’t realise, but our bedroom acts as a protective barrier. There is a solace that we find in it before we are considered ‘young adults’ that have to pay for rent and buy their own groceries. Our childhood bedroom raises and comforts us before our calls at home become less frequent and we tell our parents that “I’m too busy with everything.” But when the time comes every once in a while, when you go back home for the holidays, you are reminded of the four walls that have watched you grow into the person you are now. You feel a happy yet sad sense of nostalgia because you realise that there won’t ever be another time where you lie in your childhood bed and not have to worry that your electricity bill is due at the end of the week.


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