On breaks from college in the early years, I slept in the white sleigh bed that I begged for in third grade. Haphazardly tacked-up photos of 14-year-old kids at school dances and pool parties still filled my bulletin boards. My 'wallpaper' was made up of 200-some Absolut Vodka ads, which I curiously began collecting at the age of 10. I ran out of wall space long before drinking was even cool. Glued to my matching sleigh bed desk were numerous pictures of Jonathan Taylor Thomas, torn from Tiger Beat. Somewhere between images of J.T.T.'s teeny-bopper visage, the name Ben was carved into the wood, in honor of my sixth-grade boyfriend, who later switched to private school and became a pretty legit suburban drug dealer.

My decorating phase ended in middle school. As I matured into the sophisticate I am today, moving on from tearing Absolut ads from magazines to stealing bottles of it from the liquor cabinet, my room spiraled deeper into a time warp. I thought maybe one day they could recreate it in the Smithsonian or something, to show future generations how '90s pre-teens lived.

Recently, I opened the door to my childhood to find a world inhabited by some strange, adult-like person. I took in the queen bed with linens and pillows in muted creams and golds, beige walls, light carpeting. The furniture was sleek and black, with no reassuring clutter to be found anywhere. It felt sterile, soulless, like a minimalist hotel, albeit a nice one, maybe a W. I opened the night table drawer, expecting to find a leather-bound book with a cross on it. Thank God it was empty. My Jewish mother hadn't gone completely over the deep end.

Once I collected myself, I noticed that a trace of the familiar seventh-grader from 1996 had been preserved. My favorite Absolut ads were spared from the garbage, and placed in black frames forming a border around the room. I was so touched by this thoughtful move that I decided to scrap my initial instinct to throw a tantrum. No, I would behave like the adult I had kind of become, compliment my mom on her decorating skills and appreciate the big comfy bed that was all mine for the weekend.

I'd like to think that I've grown up as much as my room has. J.T.T. may never have made it past child stardom, but I have high hopes for myself. Maybe as a first step, I should take that picture of him out of my wallet. Maybe.


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