I hid inside the closet way before I knew about its implications. Had two in my bedroom as a kid, but only one which I coveted as my hiding place. In it, I fit my flattened pillow (shape created before I learned of its ability to inform pleasure when rubbed between my thighs), my radio/tape player and a poster, which my memory fails me to envision. I listened to music, wrote in my diary, and ate food, which I snuck upstairs to my cave-closet. I thought of secrets, fell asleep, cried until I forgot how and chatted on the telephone.
I'm not sure how old I was when I decided to carve out a hidden passageway in my closet wall. You know, like they do in the movies. It was far more difficult than I imagined, realizing the many layers of wall, that caused me to eventually lose steam. But for awhile, my closet floor looked like a cocaine den, with the dusty innards covering the wood.
I'm not sure what I would have hidden in the walls if I had succeeded in my dig. Poems? Love notes? Recipes?
I came out of the closet metaphorically at nineteen. Literally at around fourteen, when my growing body could no longer fit comfortably. By then, I hid in other ways through drugs and secrets.
But this is not about that.
This is about what it means to go home. To remember the hiding places, the sticker and postcard collections. To remember the pile of notebooks with revelations and scratched out coded language. This is about the smells of childhood that still remain in the walls. To remember what it was like to morph into a different body and not be ready for its mutation. This is about milestones and misery.
My childhood home no longer exists. Or it does, but is now inhabited by a different family with different problems. That hole has probably been patched up. And my purple-painted bedroom may be white now or striped. The yellow sticky notes I hid in various pieces of furniture in my bedroom are long gone. Ink faded so I probably would not have been able to decipher its reminder.
I still have dreams that my room still exists. That it needs cleaning. That my mother finds my hidden stash of pills crushed up into powder to snort like the actors in those movies.
Recently, I got to experience the childhood home of my mate. Untouched bedroom, preserved in invisible plastic wrap. Felt fourteen again as I found myself following rules and curfew. Sleeping separately because of our queerness.
I have a bedroom in my father's house, which I lived in during my early twenties, going to community college. Still searching for my self. There is a book shelf of the books I read at that time: horror and feminism, Plath and Salinger, writer's market books and various dictionaries. When I visit, I can still see the twenty-three year old me struggling with my vocabulary. I was a lesbian then. Briefly a bisexual. I was a poet. Briefly a children's story writer. I was a baker and a novice of hope. I was a recovering drug addict and a daughter. I was the past tense of so many things I still am but can no longer pronounce.
To go home is to be brave. To remember. To revisit the selves inside the self you are now. To study photographs and the accumulation of dust.
And then, to walk toward the real home. The one where you pay your bills. Where you can walk around in your nude and not have to call yourself anything but human or animal. To smoke pot or drink as much hot chocolate as you want without judgement. To remember all the homes that led you toward the one that finally feels like one.
Aimee interviews Anne Waldman in great weather for MEDIA’s latest anthology, Before Passing.
Read more Aimee in her latest full-length collection, meant to wake up feeling