my childhood room

Each time I come back to Raleigh to my parents' house, I feel a bit more removed from it all. 

I lived in Raleigh for 10 years of my life. While this is only a decade of Raleigh's centuries-deep history, somehow I feel like each time I come home things will be the same. In my head on the flight home, I always think about all of the people I'll see and the restaurants I'll get to eat at and remember old times.

It never quite lives up to the world I create in my head. I see fewer people each time I come home, due to our busy lives not perfectly intersecting. 

This trip, quite painfully, I ate at Joule for the last time. Ashley Christensen, the owner, closed it on New Year's Eve to help her friend open an oyster bar in the space.

 My last time at Joule. I won't.

My last time at Joule. I won't.

While I've eaten at hundreds of restaurants in my life, this one was one of the most special. Jordan and I stumbled upon it on our first date and we felt like it was made just for us. I enjoyed countless brunches, late night lattes, and laughs there. I asked Jordan out at one of its wooden tables when we got back together 2 summers ago. 

 my first brunch at Joule. Check that date! I was a BABY!

my first brunch at Joule. Check that date! I was a BABY!

Something about it was warm and beautiful. The food was hearty and delicious, the coffee was reliably good, and the windows were perfect for people watching. The outdoor patio was a dream on the right spring day. It felt like home to me, and I'm sure it felt that way for many other people.

 one of our last trips to Joule (to work on online classes & people watch, of course)

one of our last trips to Joule (to work on online classes & people watch, of course)

But it wasn't mine to keep forever. I don't even live in Raleigh anymore. And as sad as I am to see it go, the chef who is able to fulfill his dream of opening his own oyster bar is probably 80x more thrilled.

Something that I've learned recently is that no place, material item, or person is ever truly "ours," as much as we may feel it so. While we may adorn ourselves with garments that we find flattering, live in brick homes or small apartments that we decorate to our heart's content, and surround ourselves with people we find fascinating, none of it is ever ours to keep. Everything is transient except the face that stares back at us in the foggy mirror as we're about to hop in the shower. 

I didn't really dig deep into my New Year's resolution ideas this year. I have now decided that I'm going to be more mindful of the way I treat my body and what I feed it this year. It's truly all we have, which is kind of bananas to think about. Soooo... maybe I should go to yoga a little more. And maybe, you know, jog occasionally. And eat less cheese. Definitely eat less cheese.

Anyway, this past trip home was pretty nice. I worked a lot and saw the kids I babysit some, which is my absolute favorite thing because they are all growing into their own little lives that I love hearing about. I saw Jordan and Morgan lots (always a great thing), and J and I got to visit my uncle in Charlotte/see the Avett Brothers play, which was the best way to leave 2016 and enter a New Year.

My parents also let me know that they're turning my room into my 16-year-old brother's new room. Not even gonna pretend I took that news well.

I think films kind of made me feel like it was a big deal. How many times does a heroine come back to her parents' house after making some huge mistake, look around at her old room (usually bright pink with lots of trophies in it), and realize that she has to get back to saving the world/fixing her life? A LOT, I've realized.

It's safe to say that my parents have had it with my nostalgia complex. So it's being repainted and my bro is putting in a 57-inch TV. Figures.

I redecorated my room senior year of high school to create the haven that I wanted to leave behind forever. I spent too many hours mulling over what elements would be a testament to New York and what would remind me of Raleigh. I bought new decorations and rearranged to perfection until I made a space that was cozy yet sophisticated enough to live without me, yet welcome me home from college for the holidays.

But I'm not a dejected heroine, dammit! I don't need to be surrounded by my past for inspiration to move forward. I just keep moving. And so it goes. 

Also, my parents are recreating my room in my brother's old room. So it's not like I'm being kicked out or anything.

I'm doing a gratuitous last look back at my childhood room in this post. Here's some photos of how it is now and some little anecdotes about the tiny things that make this room what it is. If you actually read this, I'm impressed.

Before this, my room was a deep pink/purple from ages 8-15. When I first moved to NC in 3rd grade, I went for a hippie theme. I remember my comforter had these pockets for books and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I also had a tie-dyed canopy with glow-in-the-dark peace signs on it. I was ALL about that. Still have a soft spot for a good canopy.

I think we repainted my freshman year of high school. Kind of symbolic, because I feel like that was the year I really started to grow into myself and figure out who I really was.

The pillows are an ironic gesture. I'm not a big monogram person and a piece of me has always found big swirly monograms tacky. I think it's my tiny resistance to Southern culture that I'll always have. But something about them on pillows makes my room feel more like a nice hotel, so I decided to just go all out. Quilt is my parents' old one because I never wanted to buy a new one.

I took a photography trip to New York during my senior year of high school. The three tiny photos of my bed are from that. The first was taken in Grand Central, the middle was in Central Park near the Jackie O Reservoir, and the third was taken in SoHo. It's crazy to look back and think about how much I've learned since that trip and how much has changed.

It was a school trip, but my dad decided to meet me in New York so we could tour FIT. Once we reunited with the school group, some kids chatted with my dad. I'm always grateful that I have parents who are conversational, kind, and intelligent. They RARELY embarrass me and I'm always eager for my friends to meet them. They're just cool human beings who I was lucky to be raised by.

The bed frame is older than I am, and the mattress was replaced my junior year of high school when my bed had a carpet beetle infestation. They aren't related to the bedbug to my knowledge, and they are fascinating little creatures. They look like lint, and you wouldn't be able to tell that they were a bug unless you saw one moving. But I would wake up with these tiny acne-like bumps on random parts of my body, and they would sting like CRAZY. We eventually had someone come take a look at it. The most interesting part is that only some people are allergic to them, and others would not get those marks from them at all. I was one of the unfortunate ones. But lucky for me, I got a pillowtop mattress after and it is so. comfortable. I want it in New York with me but for now I'm faring with a IKEA mattress. Which isn't a big deal considering that I always pass out within 20 seconds at the end of a long day.

I always sleep on the left side of the bed in this bed, but the right side in my new bed. I think I like to be furthest away from the door for some reason. As a kid I remember thinking that if someone was an intruder, it would take them longer to get to me if I slept on the far side. Morbid much? Not really logical, either. Perhaps it's evolutionary.

This is my night stand. Normally it's not this crowded. 

I got that terrarium probably my junior year of high school from an Etsy seller based out of Chapel Hill. My favorite part of it is the tiny deer inside. The moss is kinda dead but the rest of it has continued to live while I'm at school! Love that little ecosystem.

The mug has lyrics from the song "Doses and Mimosas" by Cherub. Morgan got it for me for Christmas in 2015. That summer we drove around with the windows down listening to that song 24/7. It's holding pens and such in this photo, because I always have thoughts I need to jot down right before I fall asleep.

My mom got me this Q & A book for Christmas in 2015 as well. I'm working on my second year of it right now! It asks you a little question every day for five years and you get to see how your answers change with time. I always look forward to writing in it at the end of each day.

Belvoir Elderflower and Rose Lemonade is my all-time favorite beverage, so whenever I see a bottle I pick it up. This one is from my favorite lunch spot, Parker and Otis, in Durham. 

Nail polish is from Glossier's holiday set. Love a good light pink nail, it's my favorite color to wear.

I wear the same jewelry pieces every day. They just sit there while I sleep.

and the lamp was my mom's old one that is somehow mine now!

 photos shot by Gillian Carlin Photography

photos shot by Gillian Carlin Photography

Mom got these photos of me printed and collaged because she wanted to feel like I still lived there once I left for college. They're from my senior picture photo session with Gillian Carlin.

Max picked out these curtains for me when he was younger. I love the polka dots, it always looks like it's snowing. 

My old windows are the WORST. The circulation to my room was the worst in the entire house. Every summer it was as sweltering as it was outside, and every winter it was as cold as the winter air. Won't miss that about it.

 art by Sahar Rehman

art by Sahar Rehman

This is my little desk. My mom painted it herself when we moved in and decided to repaint it again after I took this photo. 

The big ol blue suitcase is from Away, my most favorite luggage startup. I fit 2 weeks worth of outfits in it for my trip home (I bought it the day before I left at their NYC store and it was the last one, totally fate).

My friend Sahar painted this painting and gave it to me as a graduation gift! I love it so much. 

I hung up a little photo from a BHLDN catalogue because ballet-inspired clothing never ceases to inspire me.

The bigger photo hanging was a gift from my ex-boyfriend and I just love it! I think it's perfect for my room because mint is a favorite color of mine, I love the 1960s, and I did end up going into advertising in school. It was almost foreshadowing.

I have a makeup mirror because I bought it for my dorm last year and didn't want to take it to my apartment this year, and a bigger mirror since that's my usual set up. The light above it burnt out and they don't sell it at IKEA anymore so it's just living up there for now.

My laptop is a little powerhouse. I got her in February of last year and she is light, portable, and holds a charge for quite awhile. 

The little black makeup bag is a Rifle Paper Company x Jansport collab. Rifle Paper Co is one of my favorite design houses. I have that, a candle, and my agenda this year from them. As well as my phone case, I just realized. They have the sweetest designs, I definitely want to wallpaper a room with their stuff one day. Oh, AND I have their Manhattan art print hanging above our apartment's kitchen table! I basically live and breathe them.

Then there's the miscellaneous desk stuff. A polaroid photo, a flipbook, a keychain with a built-in alarm that I'm too afraid to use, etc.

 It's a little blurry because I did a bad job editing my dad's hand out. Sorry fam

It's a little blurry because I did a bad job editing my dad's hand out. Sorry fam

This is the area above my bookshelf. It used to be the home of my record player but that has since moved to my apartment.

I got the typewriter for Christmas my sophomore year of high school from Santa. I adore the mint green keys and I used to write poetry on it. It'll move to New York with me eventually, perhaps next time I move (hopefully not for a long while).

The pizza purse is from JCrew's kids' section and I want to wear it every day of my life. 

I have a stack of some of my favorite coffee table books that will move with me one day when I live somewhere that fits a coffee table! I got Eloise for Christmas 2 years ago from my mom. It's the complete anthology of her books. I was Eloise for Halloween that year and people took photos of me at the Plaza, it was magical.

I got 3 Rookie Yearbooks from my aunt. There are definitely one or two more out now that I need to read. Tavi Gevinson inspires me so I'm quick to support anything she does!

My friend and photographer Gillian gave me the book on Vivian Maier. The story behind it is captivating and all of the images are a stunning look at humanity. I love flipping through it for inspiration.

For two years I had an Ansel Adams calendar hanging up. I have a soft spot for his work because my family loves going to new National Parks every summer and that is primarily what he photographed. A true American great and his work reminds me of the beauty the US has to offer.

The little navy bag is Rag and Bone and I got it for super cheap on Black Friday last year. It has a built-in card holder and is the perfect size for every day. You can still snag it here! It comes in lots of colors, I chose this one because I loved the maroon detailing on the strap. OKAY, while looking up that link for you guys, I JUST DISCOVERED that they made a blush pink one. Someone buy it so I can stare at it lustfully on Instagram. Please and thank you.

Below are all sorts of books and DVDs I have from growing up, it'd be a little bit overwhelming to explain so I left it out!

This is the area above my dresser! 

The pink box holds all of my Christmas gifts and normally isn't there, same with the little white Corckcicle one. I got a new coffee tumbler that I'm super excited about.

To the left is a tiny Polaroid photo of my friends Morgan, Juliana, and Megan at the Food Truck Rodeo in 2015. It was the hottest day ever, and we pretty much just stuffed our faces. In the middle of winter, it's strange remembering that there are times in summer when you can feel sweat drip down your body just from being outside. Bananas.

The cloche jewelry tree is from Urban Outfitters a couple years ago. It's one of my favorite pieces but doesn't really fit on my new desk well. I'm sure it'll move with me in a couple of years.

I got the tiny lightbulb terrarium in Asheville with my friend Lauren a couple years ago. It only has to be watered every SIX months. I would love to hang it from the ceiling one day as a decorative piece near my bed.

The small turtle bobble head I got in the Outer Banks when I was probably 8 years old. I loved that thing so much and it has been a decor piece in my room since.

I got the Poole's Cookbook for Christmas from my mom. Ashley Christensen is one of my idols (I talked about her restaurant Joule earlier in the post, but I truly love them all). Mom and I recreated her Macaroni Au Gratin at home from the book and it tasted just like it does at the restaurant. I'm excited to create more recipes from it this semester. Also, it makes me feel REALLY Adult to own a cookbook. 

On top of that is my Rifle Paper Co planner for this year. You can pick it up here (and it's on sale now)!

On my board is a series of photos capturing my favorite moments from 2015. I haven't updated it for 2016 since I'm not home much, but I ordered these from Parabo Press and they are super affordable! Check out their app on the App Store. If you want to recreate this project, I believe you can get 25 of these prints for free with the code "FIRST", just pay shipping! 

Looking back reminds me of what a crazy amazing year 2015 was. I graduated, I fell back in love with Jordan, I went to St. John, I moved to New York, I saw Hamilton, and I was just super, super happy. I also went through a lot of shit, but these photos really do remind me of the BEST times. I probably should do this for 2016.

Mom got me this long canvas from TJ Maxx forever ago and I still love it. For awhile it was just words to me, but it's nice looking up at it now and thinking of the memories I've made in all of those places.

I've had this cross above my door since I can remember. It's a nice reminder of my past growing up in Catholic school and how that has shaped my life.

The photos are decorations from my graduation party. I thought my mom did such a good job with them so I hung them up!

This little New York sign is probably my least favorite thing in my room. It has never matched quite right!

I got this guitar for Christmas in 7th grade and really, really wanted a Hello Kitty guitar strap for some reason. At the time I was taking lessons and would half-learn all of these songs by Taylor Swift or The Fray on guitar. I never practiced much so I didn't get very good at it. I've been thinking of selling this for awhile but my dad insists that he will learn to play it sometime. Jordan loves to mess around with it every time he comes over.

And this is Bryn, main resident of my room while I'm away. Favorite activities include snuggling, playing with toys, walks, and eating treats. Also sorting through her kibble to find the best pieces. She's one particular little dog. I love her.

Hope you enjoyed my reminiscing as much as I enjoyed writing it.

I promise I'll have a less self-indulgent and more helpful post up later this month!

Also, this post may have reminded some of you that I still haven't posted an apartment tour video even though I moved in 5 months ago. Our apartment is about finished decor-wise, but we want to wait until spring because we have a nice view and right now all of the outside looks dead and sad. I promise we have actually put plenty of thought into this and the final result will totally be worth the wait. I'm on a mission to make it a cinematic masterpiece. 

OH! Lastly! I'm thinking of putting together a life update video in the next month, so if you have any questions for me, feel free to submit them in the "CHAT" tab! 

Much love to all of you,

Em