ramblings from the attic nook.

26 Dec

I am writing in the the attic right now because I am roomless. Utterly without a room. Devoid of a space to call my own, except at this moment, the smallish space between the stairs and rooms in the attic, the “nook.” In it, there is a life-sized paper mache, brown and cream colored cow head mounted on the wall, a large plant that’s shedding its summer leaves all over me and an array of cheap suitcases and black plastic bags filled with holiday decorations. The walls are light green, the color of sea foam or of a grassy, spring breeze. They slope all around, down toward me and then sharply away into dark, perpendicular corners. The floor is dark green, a seaweed or shadowy forest green. Into this space was placed an item for decoration only–a wicker rocker chair, and yet in it I sit, comfortably, wrapped in a spare comforter (for attics are cold).

I share a room with my little sister, but when she has friends over, I leave. If I were her, I wouldn’t want a hulking 22-year-old dampening the fun of build-a-bears and pollys and secrets. John, my younger brother who is home from the Army, re-inhabited the beautiful attic room I previously enjoyed, complete with an adjacent full bathroom. And the room I had my entire life was stolen into by my other younger brother, Jeffrey, when I left for college. This left me with one option when I came home from college: move into a room with my little sister. And we share a bunk bed. It’s like college all over again. I could always move out, so I shouldn’t complain. That is, if I had the money to, which I don’t—thanks to monstrous student loans I incurred by going to a private school to earn a degree in writing, which leads a job in….you guess it—writing—which as everyone knows isn’t a lucrative career. Far from it.

If it sounds like I’m complaining, I’m not. The fact that I have a job at a newspaper, which, if you know anything about them, won’t be around in a few years, is something I am greatly thankful for. Before I became a reporter, I was a nanny, for three long weeks. During those three weeks I tasted the bitter taste of leaving at 7:30 a.m. every morning for a job you don’t like and getting home at 5:30 p.m. exhausted and completely uninspired. I predicted that would be my life for the next 50 years—an exhausted nanny who sorely regretted never doing anything else. Everything changed one night with a phone call from an editor of a paper I interned at. It was a voicemail, actually. He had an open position at the paper, for a reporter, and I was to call him asap.

I peeled the cell phone away from my surprised ear and stared at it like it was some malicious liar spreading slander. How could it play such a cruel trick on me? I tried to wake myself up from the dream that I wouldn’t be a nanny forever, that one day I would leave for a job I enjoyed  instead of dreading an eight hour work day filled with intermittent slaps and pinches from 3-year-old boys. No, it was too good to be true. I had been dreaming of it for too long.

I had sent out application after application for reporter jobs all over the country. I spent a small fortune on copies and postage. The people at the UPS store knew me by name, and by the thick manila envelopes filled with newspaper clips I sent to remote places like Washington, Oregon and, worst of all, Louisiana. No, it couldn’t be. Life never happened to me, not like this anyway—not in one great, overwhelming rush, not in one phone call asking if I wanted a job right here in my hometown. No, my life was more like a thin stream that sometimes stopped altogether for days, weeks, months, years at a time.

Yes, it was true, I finally decided after listening to the message so many times I practically had it memorized. Life had happened to me. And because life happened to me in a wonderful way—beautiful in its suddeness—I know it will continue happening to me in other ways, along the way. In the meantime I am happy, mostly, to discover what being a reporter means. I am writing and yet not living in a cardboard box. I am happy to pay my bills and live in a nice home with my nice family, even though I don’t have a space to call my own. It’s a luxury, after all. But the nook, as I now realize, isn’t half bad. It’s quiet. The cow head has a permanently pleasant, content look plastered on its face, the work of my mom, who created it. And the wicker rocking chair has a certain charm.


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