The mostly brick home I grew up in was built in the 1940s. My parents rented out basement until the second or third child arrived and more rooms were needed.
With the renters gone, my parents decided to turn over one of the bedrooms to me. I took the one with shag carpet and was excited as any sixth grader could be.
My favorite feature of my new bedroom was the drop-down desk. Well, it looked like a desk, but was held up by a single metal chain. But I used it to store my football cards and the few coins I had at the time. On the wall closest to my bed, was a hidden compartment. A small square of paneling covered a water valve that my father told me never to touch. So, of course, that’s one of the first things I did after moving in.
A year earlier, my grandparents had given me a digital clock radio for Christmas. The reception from the basement wasn’t great, but good enough to bring the groups like the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, and Abba into my room to keep my company. I could sing along to Dancing Queen without my sisters teasing me.
And that’s where I’d retreat when I wanted to get away from everything. I’d lay down on the shag carpet and put my ear up close to the radio’s speaker. My room was the coolest area of the house, and I could listen to music for hours. I’d tell my parents I was using my desk to complete my homework, but that seldom happened.
Sometimes I’d tell myself I had to stay awake till the green glow of the clock emitted 11:11. Then I’d act like I was the first kid to recognize the pattern.
For the next 10 years or so I used that room to escape whatever was bothering me.
When I was old enough to attend a church stomp, a cute girl asked me to dance. I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew I looked stupid doing it and couldn’t wait for the song to end. When I returned home that evening, I jumped into bed and turned on my radio. The DJ introduced the same Toto song I’d danced to earlier that night. That was bittersweet.
I still retreat to music when I want to get away from it all. But I’ve traded the mono speaker for a set of sweet headphones.
All I need now is shag carpet.