When I was growing up, I never had my own bedroom. I always had to share my room with at least one brother. I remember the bedroom we had on Wood Street. We had two sets of bunkbeds for the four of us. I always liked sleeping on the top bunk just to be away from everyone, even it was only temporarily. Sometimes it was the only privacy I had.
When my parents started to really argue right before getting divorced, my mother moved her bedroom to the attic and gave me her bedroom all to myself. I felt badly because then my father didn’t have a bedroom, but he wanted me to have the bedroom for myself. He told me that he didn’t need a bedroom. My father worked midnights and he would sleep on the sofa while we were at school. He was upset that his marriage was breaking up.
Well, this new bedroom of mine was the first time I ever had my own bedroom and I just loved the privacy! The doors even had a working lock because my mother had put it there to keep my brothers and me out. So I used to lock my bedroom whenever I went to school. That was my very own private kingdom. I would always find things right where I left them! My brother Danny couldn’t borrow my hockey shin guards without my permission. Dicky couldn’t sell my stuff when I wasn’t home. Tato was the only one I could trust because we did many things together ever since he started helping me with my paper route. We were business associates. I also had a chameleon in my room that like to hang on the red drapes and blend in.
When I went away to Divine Heart Seminary my freshman year, I lost my private bedroom. My father had moved out from our house at Wood Street due to their separation and pending divorce. When I returned from Divine Heart a year and a half later, my new bedroom was in the attic, which was unfinished, unheated, unfurnished, and had no running water. The bedroom that my mother had for herself in the attic was very livable, but it was off limits to me. That was my mother’s emergency bedroom. Just in case. Just in case of what, I never did learn. My father would only return to the house to take us out for visitation. So I was relegated to the rear of the drafty attic. My father found a bed stowaway bed in the alley and she came to get me so I could help her put it in the attic. At first, I didn’t know why she called me. When we were in the alley, she said that we were putting the bed in the back of her VW Squareback. I had seen a dog urinating on it early in the day and I told my mother so. She told me to just help her take it home because that was going to be my bed in the attic.
Well, ever the optimist, I was happy to have my very own room again. I stuffed newspaper into the cracks between the roof and the wall to stop the wind from coming in during the winter. My mother and I installed a gas space heater to make the attic bearable during the winter, but it was still cold anyway. Luckily, I had been in the Explorers Club where I learned how to camp during winter weather. I used to sleep in my mummy sleeping bag with two wool blankets. I was quite comfortable even on the coldest nights. I used my guitar amplifier to create surround sound in the attic by hooking up every speaker I ever found to my radio and 8-track player. I set up a little table with a manual typewriter and I used to type away for hours. And the final touch was my favorite. I bought a black light and some flourescent posters of M.C. Escher drawings that were so popular in the 1960s and 1970s. I always kept the black light on as a night light. Otherwise, I would crash into the roof beams and bang my head so hard that I would have large lumps. (That’s why I’m so hard-headed to this day.) And just when I had my bedroomm exactly as I wanted it, my parents’s divorce was final and my mother bought a new house in Marquette Park.
When I think of all the bedrooms that I have ever had, my favorite one had to be the one at the house on Marquette Road. I went from one extreme to the other. From a cold drafty bedroom in the attic to a bedroom in the basement next to the boiler. I actually started sleeping in my birthday suit for the first time in my life because the bedroom was so hot. This bedroom wasn’t actually just mine and mine alone, but rather a room I shared with Danny, Tato, and Dicky. But as they went off to Divine Heart Seminary one by one, the room became mine while they were away at school. But before they left, we painted the room completely black. We also painted the windows black, so the bedroom was completely dark. However, I brought the black light from my previous bedroom and put it up, along with the flourescent M.C. Escher posters that I had. My brothers bought more flourescent posters that practically lit up the whole room. That room was perfect for sleeping! In fact, I couldn’t tell when the sun rose because the room was so dark. The only thing I really hated about the room was the concrete floor that wasn’t level. It looked deceivingly level, but if you put a ball on the floor it would immediately start rolling. The dressers were practically useless in that vortex of a bedroom because of the uneven floors. The drawers wouldn’t open or close properly because the dresser would become misshapen because of the floor. When the basement became very humid, the drawers would just freeze in whatever position they were in.
But as I said, the room was perfect for sleeping because it was so dark. The black light was perpetually on. It was the perfect mood lighting. All the posters were very comforting. I even got used to waking up in the middle of the night and looking at the one of the Satan-like creature with pterodactyl-like wings flying off with a baby in its talons into the flourescent orange sky. One of my brothers bought that poster. My mother no longer used her portable AM/FM/8-Track player, so I used it for mood music while I slept. I especially loved the 8-Track player. Sure the sound quality didn’t compare to other stereos, but it had the distinct advantage of being able to play good music over and over and over again. The most annoying part was when the looped tape would reach the beginning/end marked by a slilver strip that would change tracks. It would make a sound similar to the clack-clack-clack of a roller coaster as it ascends the first hill. Only it was duller and it sounded like wood thumping on wood. I remember listening to these 8-Tracks repeatedly through high school: Led Zeppelin III, Black Sabbath Paranoid, Yes Fragile, Deep Purple Machine Head, and Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy. And when they wore out and broke from being over played, I would buy a new copy of to replace the faulty 8-Track. Amazingly, the 8-Track player never broke!