It was a dream. I remember my mom tucking me in at night, shaking her head at the stuffed animals I had piled around me. My older sister was in her own bed on the other side of the room, and we’d both lay there and listen to our mother’s “if’s.”
“If your grandfather comes to live with us,” Mom would say, “then we can build an addition, and you can have your own rooms. But only if.”
It was never supposed to happen. My uncle lived with my grandfather and took care of him. There was nothing I could do, except dream and imagine what a room of my own could look like. Then came the series of events that fulfilled a dream. My uncle got married, and he and his wife began looking for a house of their own. My grandfather’s ulcer ruptured, and he was hospitalized for a month, slowly fading away. My uncle could no longer take care for my grandfather. I remember the family meetings with my other uncles and aunts. They all wanted to put him in a nursing home, but Mom was afraid that if Granddad went to a home, he would die. That was when we struck the deal. Granddad would pay for the addition on our house so that there would be room for him to live with us. The “if” had come true.
September 2005, the construction workers began laying the foundation for the addition. By January 2006, the addition was insulated and sheetrocked, waiting to be transformed into a home.
My room is on the second story of the new half of our house. It has three large windows, one facing the rising sun, and two facing the noon sun. It also has a small closet with three deep shelves and a thick wooden pole for hanging clothes. However, the room was just the shell of the dream. The real dream wove itself on the four walls, stretched across the ceiling, and enveloped the ceiling fan. It is a beautiful mural, drawn and painted by my mom, my best friend, Samantha Harris, and me.
My mom painted the mural by my closet door. Two tall oak trees framed the picture, their roots twisting around each other, and their branches interweaving to form a crown of leaves. Beyond the frame you could see an elegant copse of trees with speckled bark wrapping around the slender trunks. Behind the trees rises two tree-covered mountains, and hidden on the left mountain was an old tower flying a red banner. My mother is a wonderful artist, and I was slightly jealous that Samantha and I couldn’t do as well with our part of the mural.
My mother’s mural joined with Samantha’s and mine through a tree painted over my bedroom door. A vine circles the tree, spiraling up toward the highest branches. There’s a river racing along the grassy floor that shoots down the cliff as a magnificent waterfall. Rose bushes sprout at the roots of trees, though the trees are not as grand as my mother’s since I drew and painted them myself. A fairy, her brown bun crowned with a wreath of flowers, dances with a ball of roses, her blue dress spinning out around her knees. Another fairy with pink wings peeks out from behind another tree, her black curly hair framing her pale smiling face. Two more mountains, the green of the trees dwindling at the base of their rocky forms, sit proudly in the distance. You can see a dark cave in the right one, with a green dragon perched on the ledge breathing fire into the blue sky. There is another dragon, a fierce black one with red wings, soaring above the towers of a medieval fort no one has thought to defend. The tower has been built of brown and gray stones, and it has a wooden palisade running around it. Two flags fly from the towers. One bears a golden horse running across the green field. It looks suspiciously like the flag of Rohan, but it’s actually the flag of Relobacock, the elven kingdom of my world, HearldEarth. The second flag is also from HearldEarth, but this one wasn’t stolen from any story greater than my own. It’s a swirling sun on a field of red, the flag of the mountain city-state, Peruda. Anyone that looks at my walls looks into my world.
Of course, anyone that sees my room will most likely admire the ceiling the most. My mother painted it. It’s sky blue, and three puffy white clouds surround my ceiling fan. They’re not normal clouds, though; my mom is better than that. If you turn your head one way, the first cloud looks like a worm, but if you turn another way, it’s the shoe of the Greek god Hermes. It doesn’t matter which way you turn your head for the next cloud; it will always look like a baby dragon, because that’s what it is. The third cloud is a castle. Mom laughed when she painted it. I laughed, too, when she told me that now I have a real castle in the clouds.
Samantha and I painted my ceiling fan. I wanted it to be a compass for my room, but it had five blades. It was Samantha’s idea to make the fifth blade the needle of the compass. So she painted the needle, East, and West, and I painted North and South. The needle is an orange triangle, with the swirling sun of Peruda above it. For the Eastern blade, she painted the pale star maid of Perudan mythology beneath the green “E.” Underneath West’s “W” a brown gryphon sits on his golden hoard in his cave. South boasts of the three-headed Imperial Dragon of Loremoon, its spiky green head watching the world outside its cave warily. Then, to the North, a unicorn lies on a rich bed of grass, looking at the night-kissed forest around her. When the electrician came in to install the fan, he warned us that the paint would make the fan unbalanced and wobbly. We were okay with that. As it turns out, the paint on the fan blades made my ceiling fan the smoothest fan in the house; it never shakes or wobbles!
The last two walls of my room are a darker shade of green. I wanted them to be forest or hunter green—my favorite shades of green—but Mom said those colors were too dark. She told me to pick a lighter shade, and so I browsed the color selections until I found a color that I thought was tolerable: Nickalodean Green. Mom bought two buckets, but we only needed one. My brothers painted my two walls for me, but when I came in to see how it looked, I cried. The walls were hideous! The green was so bright it hurt my eyes. I knew I would not be able to live in that room as long as that grotesque color marred the walls. Mom had pity on me, and we took the spare can of paint back to Home Depot. They graciously adjusted the color, adding globs of dark blue, dark green, and a little black to its hideous brightness. It created a new shade of green; I call it Perudan Green. We painted over the nasty walls, and I was able to sit on the floor and look at them without pain.
The floor was covered with a carpet the color of grass, and my room was complete. I wanted so badly to move in, but we had to wait until the building inspector gave us the “go ahead.” When he came, Mom gave him the complete tour, starting off in Granddad’s handicap accessible room, and then leading him through upstairs bedrooms. The inspector was impressed when Mom showed him my room; he admired all our murals and the ceiling fan. Mom told him that I was very excited about my new room, hinting that I couldn’t wait to actually live in it. Still looking at the forested plains of my HearldEarth, the inspector told Mom that he “guessed it would be okay if we moved in now.” Mom told me that she suspected my room was what got us into the addition early. It made me feel that much prouder about my room. In March 2006, I got to move into my room!
It started as a dream, and then my dream became my sanctuary. I began to fill it with all the things that would shelter me from any reality I wanted to reject. I crammed books into my bookshelves, and then organize them into neat piles on my chairs and floor once the shelves were stuffed. I have a basket overflowing with stuffed animals —old friends of my childhood. I have covered my two green walls with pictures of family and friends, paintings and drawings of mine and my grandmother’s, fantasy movie posters, and even a map of Narnia! I have a knick-knack shelf that holds my Lord of the Rings action figure collection, as well as several others that hold my dragon figurines and fantasy utensils. I’ve hidden a sword in my wardrobe, right behind my green ranger cloak and Renaissance gowns. And at the edge of the waterfall lies the true portal: my computer. My stories, my songs, my poems, and my dreams are imbedded in its aging hardware. I look at it, wondering if those dreams will ever see the light of day. Then I look at my room and realize: if this dream came true, why not others?