I am crazy (in the normal way). Let me just put it out there, it's true. I am insane (in the normal way). I know we are all a little psycho (in the normal way), but me more than others (not in the normal way), okay?
As a small child, I had major dependency issues. Eruptions of massive temper tantrums could be expected any time my mom left the house, and I couldn't even handle her closing the door to pee. Yes, I would often insist on sitting on her lap while she did it. Whatever, it happened. While I am proud to say that I have pretty much conquered my childhood attachment issues, I regret to note that they have been replaced by a whole new slew of anxieties. Like every other normal 20-something year old girl, let's just say I really relate to the show Girls.
Having changed so much emotionally and physically (I grew five inches in one year) in such a short time makes much of my life before the age of 13 a blur, but certain events jog my memory.
Recently, I was re-reading a short story called, "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It is a feminist piece about a mentally and physically trapped woman. While reading, something clicked and triggered a memory I normally choose to suppress... The Yellow Wallpaper.
The Yellow Wallpaper
I am 12. I am 5'7.'' C cup. A song plays in my head to the melody of "You Better Shape Up" from the musical Grease. Unibrows, they're multiplying, and they're losin' control, for the power they're supplyin'... that song describes my face.
Another day of middle school. I go into the bathroom to brush my frizzy hair (Not yet realizing that brushing is the root of all frizz problems), and to pick at my face. I look at the yellow wallpaper with its flowers on the bathroom wall. I don't particularly love it or hate it. It's just kinda there, as it has always been. Constant and true.
Go to middle school. Come home. Go about my normal routine. Everything is fine (minus the fact that I am in middle school) and I start to do my homework. I have to pee.
I go into the bathroom. This is the part when all hell breaks loose.
The yellow wallpaper is gone. It is GONE. I mean, it is not there. I mean, it has been torn down completely. Replaced with nothing but repulsive (but, in retrospect, significantly less tacky) paint!! Until that very moment I hadn't internalized how much that yellow wallpaper had meant to me. How much I needed its stability and...friendship? I suddenly realized that very wallpaper was my most trusted companion and guardian.
It had been there for me through my most formative years, watching me, caring for me and listening to me. And now, my mother had gone and betrayed it. She took it away without even asking my permission! How could she?? Literally, the greatest offense that could have been committed against me, had been committed, and now there was but one thing for me to do. Rage coursing through my veins, I knew I had to save the yellow wallpaper from disgrace and certain death.
I ran outside, tears streaming. I hoped it wasn't too late. It couldn't be too late! Failure was not an option.
I didn't think twice about what I did next. The wallpaper, my defenseless baby, needed help and I was coming to its rescue! I would make right of this horrific wrong if it was the last thing I did. I got in the dumpster and began to dig.
Up to my arms in the dandelion mold spores of rotten fruits and vegetables, the wafting stench overtook me. It made me lightheaded and I hallucinated images of how the yellow wallpaper must have hurt and cried as they tore her down. "Have you no mercy!" I wanted to scream at the bad people. I picked through bottles, papers, yogurt cartons, food scraps, and pieces of cardboard until I saw that fresh flash of innocent yellow.
Yellow, with little pink and red flowers, and a hint of green stem.
I scuba-dived to salvage it and held my breath until my fingers could feel its flimsy canvas. I pulled ever-so-delicately to liberate the torn scrap from hell, but then my eye caught a glimpse of another piece buried still deeper! Its corner barely peeping, seemed to plead, "Help me! Help me! You are my only hope! I'm dying!" Mortified, I couldn't waste another second, so I made a second dive.
I emerged from the dumpster, like a gremlin spit from a mud bubble, reeking of shit. My eyes squinted, my teeth clenched, sweat dripped down my back. I had done what I came to do, and I held the two pieces in each fisted hand. I felt like Schwarzenegger, with the still-steaming dumpster behind me.
I stomped into the house, past my wide-eyed mom, through the living room, through the dining room, to the kitchen. I got the thumbtacks and hammer. Tears still welling up, I ran to my bedroom, and violently hammered the two scraps to my wall above my bed in ultimate defiance. I sat on my bed, still dirtied with trash, and stared up at the yellow wallpaper against my baby blue painted walls. I had done everything I could, and though it would be a long time before I would forgive my mother for her wrong, I felt better.
The yellow wallpaper remained hanging above my bed for the next two years as a symbol of my stubbornness and refusal to deal with change. Nobody asked me about it, nobody told me to tear it down. So while I may have had some deep-seated issues, it all seemed pretty simple to me: The world (and my physical and mental self) was a scary and ever-changing thing, but there were certain small things I could do to stabilize it and make it better.
Okay, so, wait, I had those scraps hanging above my bed for two years? Yes, yes I did. But, somehow, it made sense.