The shape of a room

Click here to buy prints, cards and posters of some of these photographs!

Last week, I rearranged my bedroom in my parents’ house. I’ve always had a single bed at home, but for the past couple of years we’ve had the guest double bed sitting in our garage, so we decided it would make more sense if it was in my room instead. I go home to my parents’ house pretty often, and having got used to sleeping in a double bed, a single is starting to seem smaller and smaller. On nights when I can’t sleep, I feel as if the edges of the bed are creeping towards me, and every time I roll over I feel like I’m about to fall off.

So the furniture had to be rearranged to make space. Of course, there were probably easier ways of going about it – but I have a particular love for rearranging rooms, so I jumped at the opportunity.

It was also an opportunity to get rid of some last vestiges of my childhood that were clinging on. I had gradually taken down most of the posters and photographs, and boxed away a lot of the stuff that lined the shelves and window ledge, but there were still some areas that hadn’t been touched in years. I’m terrible for getting sentimentally attached to inanimate objects, so I do keep everything, but I do love the feeling of putting away a part of your life that isn’t relevent anymore.

While I was cleaning and moving, some forgotten friends and objects resurfaced, and I got to see things that had been there all along in a new light. So out came the camera.

Mr Woof was given to me three Christmases ago by my boyfriend at the time. Although I’m not a teddy bear freak, and had hardly bought a new one since I was a child, I fell in love with this guy in a toy shop – he’s big enough to be satisfying to hug, and ludicrously soft. He had been boxed away with all the other remnants of that relationship, and it was high time to take him out again.

I’ve picked up a lot of different things over the years, but the ones that have stayed laid out in the room are mostly those that were gifted to me, or hold some emotional significance. All the clutter of my teenage years has gradually subsided. It seems to be a common teenage phenomenon, the wish to fill your space with clutter and noise, as though desperately cutting a personality out for yourself. My walls used to be covered with sketches, drawings, paintings, photographs, pictures of celebrities, postcards, any pretty or funny flyer or poster I came across. But these days, I need a bit more room to breathe.

It used to be the case that my room was filled with cats – cat figurines, pictures, stuffed toys. There are still a lot of these floating around if you look closely. But there is one rather odd animal that I ended up with a mini collection of – elephants.

The dark wooden elephant in the middle was the first one I acquired, bought in the airport in Bangkok when I was eight. We didn’t ever leave the airport – we were on our way to Australia, the long way around, as we had missed the flights that would have taken us across the US. The ivory elephant to the front was the last to join the collection. I found him when I was ten years old in a small second-hand shop in County Meath, while on holiday with my mother, aunt and cousins. My cousins had a friend staying with them in the holiday home as well, and I had a fairly violent if quickly forgotten crush on him. I can still remember the smell of him as I wandered around the dimly lit jumble of a shop.

But the third jewelled elephant was probably where my love of elephant figurines started.

This little guy is made slightly ugly by the greyish-brown putty that holds his mirrored glass, and he has long since lost his tusks. But I love him because I can’t remember him not being in my life. He lived in my grandparents’ house, on a shelf in the corner at the back of the living room. Every time I went out the french doors into the greenhouse, I would wave hello or touch the red pieces of glass on his back. When I was nine, my grandparents died, and he was the only thing I requested to have.

These guys are ‘the dudes’ of my room. Both of these are relatively new, compared to the old canon of stuffed toys I grew up with. All of the older ones are now in the attic, apart from my two favourites, who have come with me to my flat. I’ll have to dedicate a post to them exclusively some day.

But these guys; the orang-utan was bought in Dublin Zoo when I was ten, and my cousin (and good friend) has a twin.The penguin is called Suica Penguin, and he’s from Tokyo. Myself and my boyfriend at the time spent two weeks in Tokyo back in 2008. Anyone who has used the metro in Tokyo might recognise him – he was the mascot of the Suica card company, which supply prepaid travel cards in Tokyo. We were highly amused by all the posters he featured in, and when we spotted a stuffed version in a metro station shop, we had to have him. He is co-owned, but has always lived with me.

The red paper lantern is also from that trip to Tokyo, but the dream catcher is much older, I can’t remember how old. These hang in the middle of my attic room, much to the consternation of anyone trying to move around the room. I am used to the fact that there is only a narrow strip down the middle of the room that you can stand upright in, but others are not, and cannot fathom why I would block this way with these hangings. But I like them; I always find ceilings too bare.

Although I probably would have been moving things around anyway to get the double bed in, moving furniture and cleaning always seems to be something I do when I’m going through a period of change. It lays out a clean slate, I guess. And gives me an opportunity to look back before moving forward.


4 thoughts on “The shape of a room

  1. I am also charmed by the elephants. When my grandmother came back from her tour in Mozambique (she worked there as a relief doctor for a few years), she brought back a whole herd of ivory elephants. I used to play with these things at any given chance, so I get the fascination. I think she used to tell me elephants are lucky for some reason, so hold on to these 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s