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Going Home

alec vanderboom

My mom announced a surprise twist in the sleeping assignments during our visit to grandma's house this past weekend. "Abby, you and Jon have your old room tonight."

When I turned 14, my father changed jobs and I moved into this drab bedroom in a new town. I promptly painted the room electric blue, with a white ceiling border and a teal ceiling. After I left for college, my little brother and later my maternal grandfather both took over "the blue bedroom." I hadn't even looked inside this room for over 15 years.

In the middle of the night, I touched the wall by my childhood bed. There was a jagged crack in the plaster and actual cobwebs flitting on the ceiling rail. I flashed back to being 14 again, filled with loneliness and loathing in a strange place. How times did I stare out the widow at an unfamiliar apple tree and wish that I could go back home?

It was overwhelming to know that every moment I sat filled with loneliness in my bedroom, an angel sat with me. My guardian angel, Angela. The one who I chitchat with all the time now. The angel who points out dropped pacifiers and reminds me about doctors appointments. The angel who swats away those nasty distractions during my Holy Hour and keeps me chugging up a long Mount Carmel.

That same angel was with me in my lonely bedroom. Only at that time I was a Protestant and didn't believe in all that "silly stuff" so I didn't talk to her.

There was a time in my life, before I had named my guardian angel. A time before I talked to Our Blessed Mother in a rosary. A time before I read the Lives of the Saints or poured out my troubles to a priest or took tea breaks with Catholic friends.

And so, during my freshman year it was just me and the Holy Trinity. Slogging it out. In my blue bedroom.

I hated the place God had moved me. I wanted my high school experience to be about theater auditions, and choir songs, and writing new poems and lots of fun parties. Instead my assignment was xenophobia, extreme poverty, and classmates who spit wads of chewing tobacco into the school water fountains.

God wanted to hollow out a giant empty space for prayer and contemplation, in a giggly, social fourteen year old girl.

The amazing part, was that God heard every prayer of complaint and answered it graciously. Twenty years later, I was back in that room, with a husband, three babies, a new faith and a full heart.