Writer, photographer, "rapper" and general technophobe takes on the internet in what could be a very, very messy fight. But it's alright: she's harder than she looks, and she's wearing every single ring she could get her hands on.


Saturday, 17 April 2010

The Yellow Room

In my pool of memories - the ones I dip into now and then, when I'm tired or sad or far away from people I love - is my favourite one. It's not a complicated one, but it's incredibly vivid. It happened more than once, I'm sure, but the memory that stays with me was about four minutes long, and perfect.

I woke up, at the age of six or seven. It was summer - it must have been - and the sun was pouring through the curtains into my room, which had slightly satiny, very pale yellow wallpaper. I was curled up in bed, under my adored Brambly Hedge duvet, and the sun had woken me up gradually by making my cheeks warm. I opened my eyes, and the whole room was shining; the walls, the curtains, the patch on my bed where the sun was peering through. The glass mobile above my bed was throwing rainbows onto all of my walls, and downstairs my mum was singing. I remember smelling bacon, so although I don't remember my dad being home, he must have been: my mum can't cook bacon. And the faint sounds of cartoons were floating up the stairs from the living room, which meant that my little sister was curled up with her Blankie, watching the Saturday morning television.

I opened my eyes, comfortable and warm and sunlit in my favourite duvet, cuddled my Fluppy (dreadlocked yellow dog toy), looked around the shining room at the rainbows and the sunshine, listened to my mum and my sister giggling downstairs, and smelled my dad's bacon, and I was happy. Perfectly happy. I was completely safe. My happiness didn't depend on anyone else; it was mine, and it was simple, and it was right. And as I lay in bed, curled up and smiling, my mum came up the stairs and took a photo. A photo that we found a few weeks ago, when I got home and looked through the contents of the loft, emptied for renovation. A photo where I look just as happy as I remember being.

It's a memory I have chased ever since. That simplicity, that shininess, that warmth, that security: I have looked for them for twenty two years. And it has been so hard to find; so hard to wake up gently in the morning and have nothing there but sun and comfort and a feeling that you are totally, totally safe. So hard to wake up in the morning without tiredness and worries and pain and insecurity being there as soon as you open your eyes. So hard to wake up in the morning with the utter freedom of being a happy child.

This morning, I woke up to feel the sun shining on my cheeks. My curtains had opened in the night, and my bed is under the window (my bed is always under the window; just in case, I think, the sun wants to make the room yellow again). I woke up and I thought nothing; I wasn't tired, I wasn't sad, I wasn't lonely. I was lying in the sun, and my room was shining. And although I couldn't hear my mum singing or my sister laughing - or smell my dad cooking - it was okay; I know that they are doing it somewhere else, and I can hear them if I strain hard enough. And, just as it did twenty two years ago, the day stretched open with all its possibilities and simplicities: no pain, no confusion, no hurt, no worries or anxieties or doubts. Just sunshine, and me.

I spent so long looking for that yellow room; trying to find it in other people. Thinking that somebody else might have it. But I was wrong. I just had to find the quietness, and the warmth, and the right bed under the right window. I just had to find somewhere that would let me wake up in the morning with nothing but the future ahead of me. And the peace that was inside me all along.