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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Behind The Red Room Door

In my house there is a room of complete and utter chaos. The laws of physics do not apply. It is a room where objects disappear into another dimension, only to reappear months later. Mystical forces block memory of leaving objects here. This place, this unearthly place has no basis in reality. Its location can shift overtime, occupying different areas of a home. As for now, its blood red carpet chills the spine. The shapes and figures that adorn the walls mock you when you enter. Abandon all hope for this is the red room and it is the dumping ground for everything which has no other place.

No, this isn't the Twilight Zone and it's not Twin Peaks. This is the spare bedroom in my house. It was a kid's bedroom that had ugly red carpet and wallpaper depicting baby Disney characters in all manner of bedtime preparation. On occasion, when we can clean it up, it serves as a guest bedroom but for now, it's pretty much storage for all sorts of junk that have no place anywhere else in the house. It also serves as a closet for all my clothes and a ready room for me in the morning so I don't wake my wife. It's nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, a lot of people probably have a 'stuff' room in their house. It's the room no one ever sees. The one door that always remains closed when company comes to visit.

My parents had one. It was my brother's bedroom after he moved out. The once sparse room now contained all manner of plants and packages to be wrapped for Christmas. My wife's parents have one. It was their eldest daughter's room. At one point, it held their old Macintosh computer and two recliners. My wife's parents would watch television in that room while we occupied the downstairs. Eventually, it shifted to other rooms of the house as they found the need to have an extra bedroom available. I used to have two. No, I'm not rich, just disorganized. But with the birth of my daughter, I needed a nursery. So, I had to downsize to just one. But let's talk humble beginnings.

I didn't always have a 'stuff' room. My first apartment did not have a 'junk' room; therefore everything I had was stuff. It was the George Carlin rule. "Your stuff is shit. My shit is stuff. Get your shit out of here. I need a place for my stuff." I also did not have anything in great quantities that could be construed as miscellaneous. All my worldly possessions at that point resided in one of the many rooms in my Dad's office building. Short of holding a vintage complete with a jar containing the head of Benjamin Raspail (a.k.a. Miss Hester Moffet), there was all manner of 'stuff' housed at the office. There was the custom made headboard from my college dorm, a Domino's Pizza thermal bag, various books, and two round table tops and bar stools. There was no way I could these items in my current living space, but when I moved into a bigger townhouse, I began to accrue more stuff. Now, my spare bedroom became a stuff room. It contained all of my Christmas and Halloween decorations in the closet, my monster entertainment center that no longer fit anywhere else, a futon, the litter box for the cats, all my records (not music), and various nick knacks that no longer had a place among the regular everyday ones. During this time, I was planning a wedding and could not fathom getting a whole lot of new 'stuff' from guests since I had no place for more of my current 'stuff.'

At that point, my then fiancée decided to buy a house so that we didn't have to move so much stuff. When we moved in brought all my 'current stuff' with me as well as the 'old stuff' from the office and my wife's stuff. We stacked everything from floor to ceiling in both extra bedrooms. Each had an odd theme. We called one the 'Pooh Room' since it was painted in Pink and Yellow on opposite walls. The other was a horribly designed kids' bedroom we dubbed the 'Red Room' from the carpet and wallpaper. Both of these rooms also had to hold bedroom furniture since we brought those from our respective homes as well.

My introduction to the Red Room describes as a place where objects disappear. I simply mean that anything that can not be found was usually located in the red room. However, at one point during our engagement, my wife lost her ring. Her friend had come over to help color her hair and hoping to not get any color or chemicals on her ring she removed it and forgot where she had left it. Usually, I have an uncanny knack for locating lost items in my house as long as I know where it was seen last. I can deduce the final location based on movement and tasks completed after said item was last seen. It's the equivalent to a contact wearer dropping one of their lenses and always looking in the weirdest of places to find it, whether it be the side of the vanity countertop or the back of the underside of the faucet. Since my wife had no recollection on when or where she had seen it last I had no basis on which to mount my search. Sickened to her stomach, she agonized for days over where it could have gone. I asked her if it was possible that she threw it away. Her uncertainty gave me pause. It was late in the week, so I would have a large amount of trash to sift through in order to declare it not there. But, I did. After cleaning up, she continued to fret over the ring as we only had six months before our wedding. She was puzzled at my lack of worry. I told her that with all the things that had to be done before our wedding, I couldn't worry about this one thing. It wasn't in the garbage and you last saw it while in the house. It had to be somewhere and we would find it when we stopped looking for it. In all probability it was where I originally figured it would be, the Red Room. She did not remember leaving it there and the room was a disaster as it was. Although, I refrained from giving her more grief by stating that perhaps one of our cats had eaten it, but since I did the litters, eventually it would appear, if that were the case. My wife's continual bewilderment at my lack of fear of losing items in my house is only matched by the track record of finding said items when I quit looking for them, though not all were found in the Red Room.

Every so often, over the course of the next few months, I would take a spin around the house and check in unusual places for the ring, but never did I locate it. About a month prior to the wedding we began shuffling stuff from the 'stuff' rooms in order to have space available for out of town guests attending our wedding. While the mattress and box spring for my wife's old bedroom suit were located in the 'Pooh Room,' the frame was stacked in the 'Red Room.' Again, the nature of the 'stuff' room is that there is no logical order to what is kept there. While moving the folded up metal bed frame I heard a tinkling noise that didn't sound like it belonged. Then, there was the dull sound of a small object hitting the carpet floor. Among the blood red sea of shag pile lay a bright shiny metallic object. It was the ring. The interdimensional doorway had reopened and deposited the ring into the folded up bed frame just in time for the wedding.

This was, of course, the only explanation because there was no way my wife would have purposely put the ring in between the folds of the frame. I surprised her with the find, asking her to marry me all over again. She, at first, assumed that I had bought another ring, but that was not the case. I asked her if she remembered taking her ring off in the 'Red Room' before coloring her hair. She suddenly recalled being draped with a towel and adorned in foil and thinking that she better take off the ring. Her and her friend had been looking at her in the mirror on top of the dresser when this thought occurred. She then took the ring and placed it on the window sill of that room where it must have fallen down off the window sill and into the frame. She could neither remember taking it off or being in that room until this point. The 'Red Room' cast a spell of amnesia on her before taking the shiny jeweled object.

From then on we tried to do our best not to go into the 'Red Room' with any thing of value. In the last year we have managed to discard or organize the bulk of our 'stuff' as to alleviate the contents of our 'stuff' room. One motivational factor was the first birthday of our daughter this July. Again, an out of town friend was visiting and since the other room was now a nursery, we needed a useable bedroom. We worked long weekend hours to clear out both our primary 'stuff' room and our secondary 'stuff' room, our garage. In the case of inclement weather threatening our picnic, we would bring tables and chairs into our garage to house guests.

Granted, both rooms still house an amazing amount of 'stuff' that needs to go somewhere else. I hope that by this time next year, this 'stuff' has found a more permanent home, either in the dumpster, another room, or the 'Room of Abandonment.' That's my attic and it has a lot of 'stuff' that makes appearances throughout the year and it is a pain in the ass to get it. I need to get rid of a lot of stuff.

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