The thing I remember most about my childhood is being afraid. I had – and have – wonderful, loving parents who did everything to keep us safe. I had no reason to be afraid. But, I also had a very active imagination. I could turn anything into a terrifying situation.
I was afraid of monsters and ghosts and death, burglars and murderers and wild animals, escaped prisoners – in 5th grade I couldn’t sleep for a week because I was afraid of Jeffrey Dahmer, after he was arrested – you name it, it probably scared me. Disney movies, closets, basements, stampeding cattle in my bedroom, the bathtub drain, things Daddy got from estate sales because they’d belonged to dead people who might be angry I had them now, streets with tar lines, swimming pools – there might be sharks! – the dark, bathrooms especially with mirrors – Blood Mary was very popular at my school in 3rd grade – my sister dying in her sleep, my parents dying in their sleep, me being murdered in my sleep by those burglars/murderers/escaped prisoners or because I was a princess, like Lincoln.
Wait, wait! It totally makes sense in
princess child logic.
The old house, as Alfred and I still call it, had a large yellow bedroom that she and I shared most of the time we lived there. It was bright, happy room with orange carpeting and a rainbow wallpaper border around the top. The room had a special nook area in it where the ceiling was lower and sloped down to short walls. This nook wasn’t yellow like the rest of the room but instead wallpapered in a fun primary color plaid/stripe type design. There was a scalloped white, wood edging around the slanted entrance to the nook. You can see the nook and a bit of the edging off to the right in this picture of Mommy and Alfred.
At some point, we didn’t use the beds as bunkbeds. My bed was in the nook, head against the back wall, feet sticking out towards the entrance. It made me feel like a princess, being in this special area with scallops coming down from a point above my bed, with the ceiling sloping down from a point above my bed, it was like the drapery around the princesses’ beds in fairytale movies. I was a princess! And I was terrified.
Princesses are the daughters of Kings and Queens. But in America, we don’t have Kings and Queens, we have presidents. And being President is dangerous because people may want to kill you, like they did Lincoln. Lincoln was shot and died in his bed because he was President. I’m like a princess now and a president is the closest thing we have to that, so I might get shot in my bed, too.
Never mind that Lincoln got shot in a theater and then carried to the White House and died in a bed because that’s where they put him. I didn’t know any of that. Never mind that Lincoln was shot for more reasons than just that he was President. Never mind that a princess is really nothing like a president and never mind that I wasn’t a real princess. In my young mind, the logic was solid, and I was scared.
I was very glad when Munchkinhead moved into the yellow room and I moved into the nook-less blue room. Then I only had a giant closet to be afraid of.