Pictures and images don’t necessarily have to correlate exactly.
Sometimes an image from one point in time can conjure up a feeling or emotion from deep down inside. I’ve always been drawn to the color blue. It might be my, at times, melancholy demeanor. Or, it could have some scientific reasoning behind my genetics. The beautiful blue pictured here is from a recent memory. An exhibition space for a great artist to be exact. But seeing a blue curtain flush up against a blue wall…I don’t necessarily feel serene. The Blue Room holds secrets that may be pushed deep down, and peering behind that curtain causes vibrating waves of anxiety. The literal space itself is a reminder of something lost.
Do you ever close your eyes hoping that the tighter you squeeze the faster time will go? I close my eyes once and there’s a flash from a playground…twice, a mattress on the floor in a closet. Three times, a balcony in Paris. Four— a bedroom in Berlin. Five…a hotel room in New York. And six, a white office with large windows. The Blue Room is a place to hold these memories and keep them safe, and quiet, so no one around is bothered. As I say this there is a pit in my stomach, a feeling of vomit rising up in my throat. Talking to the counselor, the stories don’t seem real…after each one I let out a grating, uncomfortable laugh — a subconscious tick that some people find either extremely odd or extremely annoying.
Are we all just our own history book of scars? The broken moments leave the most interesting marks, while the joyous ones fade away in a fleeting laugh or smile. Is life just an undulating spectrum of ups and downs until the waves stop and lie flat?
I smile, wondering if this woman believes me. “Tell me about when the abusive patterns started,” she says. Well — the color blue flashes — a dark blue fading out to pink and green. I’m chest down on an outdoor table with the shadow man behind me. Back and forth, he grabbed my hips and I felt a searing pain on my back then again on my arm. Teeth marks and droplets of blood seeped through my skin. This is fun, this is supposed to be fun. I’m pleasing him…I would say this to myself in my head waiting for it to be over. The bruises turned dark, almost black. Ugly things that would need to be hidden. Once in a while one would pop out of a sleeve or a dress, and I would explain that it was okay, just some fun, as I rubbed the spot on my arm. It wasn’t until much later I was able to actually look back at these incidents and see them for what they were—one form of control out of many.
Where did my reluctance to stand up for myself, to scream, to push someone off of me come from? Thinking on different moments and points from my life…I wonder if it’s systemic in my existence…if the abuse patterns were inevitable because I am female. I am quiet. I am trusting. A predator knows how to sniff out their prey.
Would opening the curtain to this space help someone else? What the shadow man did was unforgivable yet it happens so often…and no one notices because the signs are not the size of war wounds. He plucked a girl out of her innocence and proceeded to show her things she could never unsee. He removed the sweet, ripe flesh and left a shell, reminding her over and over again that she was nothing if not lucky to have him there with her. I love you, I would say. He would click his tongue and respond mais oui, c’est pas grave. And like that, a piece of my confidence would crumble to the ground.
So, you see…The Blue Room is a place to keep these memories safe. To check them out then neatly put them back again. To explain them, digest them, to feel or not feel anything towards them, but to know they’re tucked away and like that, I pull the thick blue curtain closed once more.