An array of books--read, reread, unread--stand erect between the metal bookends that were never sold in the garage sale. Larger books rest wearily against a wooden slat two perches below their peers. The tall shelf that some in the tiny library occupy again speaks of its age through chips in its whitewash, yet another relic from the fundraiser. The air around the structure smells faintly of must and cat urine.
Diagonal to the scene, a pair of bunk beds guard the entrance, compelling evidence of the room's previous tenants. Their sleepers have long since grown into men and left discarded childhood debris behind. Crinkly plastic covers one bed's tucked-in sheets in order to ward off the room's malady, its clammy four-legged visitors. A purple blanket drapes the lower bunk, two-year-old wrinkles disfiguring the color's elegance. This is proof of a different kind: A new inhabitant.
In the middle of the room yawn two crushed boxes, the words oocheguk taekbae printed in bold letters at the bottom--"post office delivery." They, too, smell of time's unceasing march. The corner of one box is split wide open, revealing the shiny silvery edge of a Bible's crisp pages. The other's contents are nearly spoiled by a cat's indiscriminate choice of litter box. For almost five months, the two receptacles have been waiting for this very day: to finally be unpacked.
After half a year of crying out to God, I have a place. It's just like waiting to grow up when you're kids, sharing rooms until one of you is old enough to venture out. I shared one with my twin until we were about three, and then he did the same with his brother for ten more years. The only difference now is this room isn't really mine.
It all started 20 years ago, Mom and Dad with their small children in tow scouting out a space to call home that was larger than their eight-foot-wide trailer. After rejecting an overgrown plot of land and deciding that a five-acre ranch would be "too rich for our blood," we were introduced to a modest three-bedroom house near the corner of Ackerman and Binz-Engleman Road. With its columned porch, hardwood floors, and pier-and-beam foundation, we knew it was our little country cottage in the city.
A Mrs. Cathy Pricer greeted us at the second front door when we came to view the home; the first front door had long since been reserved as another entrance to the master bedroom. After having been added onto twice, the house now resembled an "L" shape, tipped to its right side. Proudly, Mrs. Pricer guided us through the elongated living room towards the large kitchen to our right. She clipped the corner expertly and headed to the dwarfed hallway further onward, with its two doors on either side.
The last two doors from the hall, our guide informed us, would be the children's rooms. Just glancing at the portal to the right, I quickly headed towards the one on the left. A boy occupied it, his dark posters glaring at me from the wood-paneled walls. I didn't care; I was enthralled. It was just my size, I knew--about half of the other room. Small, yes, but quaint. This room would be mine.
Over the course of these last two decades, the room to the right has changed hands several times: It was first the boys' room, then just Chris', then just Jason's when he forcefully kicked his brother out. It was no one's room the year Jason was off in China; then, hard on his luck, it was Chris' when he moved back from the Midwest. My room, on the contrary, has always been mine--that is, until moving out of it three years ago.
Growing up, Dad was always eyeing the room on the left for its peaceful solitude and quietness. One of the two back rooms would be his office, he had informed us. It just remained to be seen which one of the siblings would leave first. As the boys' door would prove to be constantly turning, mine seemed the perfect candidate the week that I packed my things. Within months, the purple paint job I had earnestly awaited almost ten years was all but nonexistent as Dad's warm yellow hue gently glided over it. No matter if I wished it so, from then on I knew my room would never again be mine.
The September before I moved to Korea, the boys' room was no one's again, as Chris headed off to the road to become a truck driver. Then it became Dad and Mom's spare room, with a place for gift-wrapping and extra storage--until, hard on his luck, Jason came back six months ago. Informed of this change in situation, it was my desire to move back to Texas with a job and apartment lined up and ready to go. Nothing within me wanted to ask Dad to give up his office, or fight for my right to be in the middle of my brothers' revolving door.
Such was not the plan, however. After nearly five months of searching and countless hours of borrowing cars and fetching rides on the bus, I have yet to find a stable, well-paying place of employment--what I like to call, a "grown-up job." Though I can praise God for the part time work I have been able to find, it's not enough to make end's meet. And certainly not enough to earn that apartment I was looking forward to.
Jason's situation has recently become such that he no longer needs use of the room at Dad's house, and the two of us have come to an agreement of sorts: if I pack up his stuff, I can have his room. Good friends of mine tell me this should only last about six months, long enough for me to save the money needed to get back on my feet. Despite their good intentions, I can't help but feel as though I'm back in high school, just waiting for the chance to venture out.
So here I am again, sharing.