Moving Out [Girlhood Pt. I]

One summer when I was in the fifth grade, my family and I traveled to Madison, Wisconsin. We would travel a lot when we were younger, especially before soccer took up most of our weekends. It was always really important to my parents that Caden and I learned about the places we were going, that we didn’t just have fun on a vacation and take nothing from it. Before summers, my parents would quiz us on the US state placement and the capitals to ensure we weren’t taking advantage of the opportunity we had to explore the country. So in Madison, Wisconsin we visited the Capitol Building, like we did whenever we traveled to a state capital.

Being only 10 years old, having undiagnosed ADHD, and not particularly being interested in Wisconsin’s political history I scavenged around for something to do. Instead of reading through the plaques and staring at the creepy portraits of old men hanging everywhere, I decided to make my own fun with the stuffed animal I had brought along and my little pink camera. I set Mr. Zingo, a yellow Webkinz, down in every notable spot in that building. Mr. Zingo was posing on the staircase, sitting in the judges’ seats, and opening doors marked Do Not Enter. 

Later that summer when my grandma asked to see pictures from our trip, I handed her a photo album of all the pictures I took of Mr. Zingo around Madison, Wisconsin. She put her hand on my head and said, “Dear, none of these pictures have you in them!” I suppose that moment was when I realized two things: I greatly enjoy being behind the camera, and I really like stuffed animals.

When I say I liked stuffed animals, I mean, I liked stuffed animals to a grand extent. I had this Excel spreadsheet with all of their birthdays, made family trees for them, and always had at least one with me wherever I went. In my mind, all of my stuffed animals had feelings and birthdays and families just like I did. I would sit in my room and talk to them, and they would talk back. In retrospect, I wonder if my parents ever worried that I took the affinity to an ‘obsessive’ level that possibly needed to be discussed with a professional. I doubt it though, they were very good about letting Caden and I be ourselves and not worrying too much.

Either way, it wasn’t until my high school years that a majority of the stuffed animals got put into tubs and stored away in the garage. It was my mom’s natural way of doing things, as she knew that I still felt emotionally connected to all of my stuffed friends but no longer wanted them in my room. So she would store some away, and a few weeks later after I had become accustomed to them being gone she would take them out of storage and give them away. I knew she was doing it this way, and I had told her to give them to charity, but this way helped to ease my mind. It made me believe that the stuffed animals weren’t being given away, they were sitting in a tub in my garage if I ever needed them. She forgot to ever give the last tub of stuffed animals to GoodWill, and it still sits in our garage to this day.

Getting rid of the stuffed animals and painting over my obnoxious yellow walls with white paint were really the only changes I made to my childhood bedroom as I transitioned from child to teenager. I never felt the need to do a total redecoration because I was rarely in the room myself, and also never particularly liked anyone else being in my bedroom either. It didn’t matter if I did my late night reading by the light of a princess lamp or a Target Dorm Essentials lamp, nobody was watching and all I needed was to be able to see my pages.

Then after high school I moved out quickly and never moved back in. As an 18 year old I thought I would be back in the summers, but that quickly faded with the pressure of internships and the draw of traveling. So the dresser with my stickers from childhood remains in the same place and the princess lamp stays on the nightstand. Whenever I’m home for short periods of time over winter break or a few weeks in the summer before returning to my respective location, I like to spend a day going through every drawer and bin in my room.

Since I decided never to redecorate my room, I have kept the same furniture ever since I was an elementary school child. It was a hand me down from my grandmother to my older cousin which has taken up permanent residence in my room the past 20 years. Because of the slight accumulation of things that naturally happens when you live in the same space for so long, making my way around this room is like visiting a museum of my own childhood. Every drawer is bound to have a journal of some kind that documents my thoughts and feelings and (business) ideas during an exact moment in my past life. You can start with elementary school and the notebooks that have Beagles and dogs on them and see the few stuffed animals that remain on my bookshelf and bed that were too special to give away, and of course the princess lamp that remains despite Snow White having lost an arm. In middle school I was far too old and mature for animals displayed on my notebooks so they instead shifted to bright patterns and had notes on all the different ways I could sue my brother. Most of the artwork that hangs on the wall was made when I was in middle school when I was more content with the making of the art and less interested in what other people had to say about it. There’s also a bamboo flute that sits on my bookshelf that Caden gave me for my seventh grade birthday, accompanied by a pair of flip flops with fake grass on them that still hang on the back of my door. High school is represented the most, since it’s the last time I used this room. Things from elementary school and middle school have mostly found a home in stored areas, whereas my high school self sits freely on the tabletops and walls. In high school I had notebooks with dogs on them again, and disdained thoughts about middle school. There are still extra painting supplies in my closet from junior year when my painting business took off. The medals and certificates I won from sports still hang on the same corkboard on the wall perpendicular to my bed. The room tells a story about a girl growing up.

There is a sense of somber nostalgia as I made my way through the room, since my college years are not documented in the way that my younger years are. I put some clothes away to fill up the closet and Mother Huntley takes the time to hang up any tangible accolades I’ve received during university, but the museum stops as soon as I turn 18. Therefore there is a detachment that I now feel from the room. Like it is only a museum that I am visiting that is no longer adding new materials. I can no longer interact with the room on a present and personal level, only through memories of the past.

Like an outsider, looking back on my own girlhood.

To start off my project of “Girlhood” I decided to document the place that represents the entirety of each stage of my girlhood.

Yours truly,


P.s. I 100% would still have the Hannah Montana poster on the wall of my bedroom even now if it wasn’t for my mom making me take it down after Miley Cyrus performed Wrecking Ball naked at the 2013 VMAs. That performance was iconic and I stand by everything our Miley does.


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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: