Where Shadows Meet 36”x54” by Paula Martiesian
Growing up in Pawtucket my bedroom faced Division Street, the main drag on the ambulance run to Memorial Hospital. My mother had very particular ideas about how to raise a child, especially a girl child. Pink was never part of the equation, an all-girls school and a variety of cultural activities were.
When it came to decorating my room, I had a say, but only if my ideas reflected my mother’s. Once when I was about 10 or 11, we had an ugly fight in a wallpaper store. She chose a small floral pattern in yellows and oranges, almost identical to the wallpaper already on the walls. I chose an off white linen with a design similar to a fleur-de-lis, simple, elegant, and probably to my mother’s mind, a bit too adult. I left the store thinking I had won the wallpaper battle, but when I arrived home from school a few weeks later to see the newly papered walls, they were covered with the dreaded yellow and orange flowers.
Later she purchased a Scandinavian design bedroom set that filled my room and left little space to maneuver. I promptly took the three-piece bureau apart and rearranged the room to my liking. After a few days of my mother’s anger and tears, I reluctantly put the bureau and room back to their original state.
I often tell these stories to illicit sympathy (albeit sympathy for a spoiled only child). But I’ve come to see these mother-daughter skirmishes from a different angle. They taught me valuable lessons, demonstrating that ideas about beauty are not universal and that everyone has their own personal aesthetic. More importantly, these episodes built in me a resolve to develop and defend my own ideas about beauty. With so much ugliness in the world, beauty is always worth the battle.