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  • Writer's pictureKelly Marks

The Room

Thursday, August 3, 10 PM

It’s been a heck of a day. Madi packed her car to the gills and set off for Chapel Hill and the new digs she’s sharing with a couple of really good girlfriends.

They are all headed into their senior year. They’ve all three lived on campus this whole time, and now they are living in half of a duplex on a sketchy street in a sketchy part of town. And they are thrilled. It’s a rite of passage, and they are ready for it.

Paul and I are headed to Chapel Hill tomorrow (Friday) along with my folks to move in her furniture. Since she arrived in Chapel Hill earlier today and unpacked, Madi has sent me a text every time she thinks of something she forgot to bring. So all evening my phone has been going ding, ding, ding.

I have kept a running list in my hand all day, and tonight I put the final load of laundry in and set about packing up all the little extras.

My feet were tired; my legs were tired, and my spirits were flagging. I sat down in Madi‘s desk chair – maybe the one thing she left here.

The room is quiet and empty and full of shadows as it is lit by the only lamp left in it. I sat and looked around.

Many years ago when we first moved in, we selected this room as Madi’s. We selected lavender walls and a border around the top that had fairies peeking out from flower petals. This was the room I would walk into each morning to see a smiling face looking back at me from the crib.

When she became a toddler, you didn’t even notice the fairies because the floor became a maze and a minefield strewn with toys, puzzles, books, and everything else you can imagine. Sometimes the messiness drove me crazy, but she loved that room.

In middle school it almost broke my heart when we pulled down the fairies, and the room was transformed from sweet childhood to a room that was a fit for someone somewhere between a child and an adult. The walls wore a beautiful aqua color and had tapestries of mandalas on the wall. Music notes covered every other surface.

After missing high school graduation and getting sent home from college after one week because of Covid, the room got upgraded again. The walls changed again, this time to sport a rich, sophisticated gray, which contrasted starkly with white trim and ceiling. A new upholstered headboard added adult flair. Shelves hold memorabilia instead of toys.

As I sit looking around, on the wall in front of me in pride of place, is a three panel painting of the Old Well at Chapel Hill painted by this room’s occupant herself. It’s a beautiful scene, and it has such meaning for Madi. It is evidence of how far she’s come and of the wonderful young woman she’s grown into, but sometimes I’d give anything for just a moment, to look up and see those fairies peeking down at me again.

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