Eating in the Beautiful Bedroomby Jeannie Morgenstern
I haven’t been able to stop thinking of your beautiful bedroom. Memories munch on the brain until the word is just a set of bones with your initials carved in, lying on a smudged plate. I don’t know how to speak so I’m going to write and eat.
I remember your birthday. How we barely knew the shape of each other and then you closed the door, pushed me against the wall of your bedroom and later in front of your whole family while I still felt the cold sheetrock against my shirt you cut into a black-chocolate cake with the same hands.
I remember how I returned to you because you promised to heal the wounds you inflicted with your hands the size of dinner plates. I remember how the weight lifted whenever I walked through the shadowy door with its sagging blue sash, shed my jacket, barely stopped to say hello to your neglected poodle before closing the bedroom door and cracking open steaming containers like skulls or seashells. Beautiful is the place where everything is green and everything is abundant:
I remember the army green walls, the dusty rug, the pool of a mirror, dusty blinds I peered through when I felt bold. A faded Candyland box, splattered dinner plates, a carcass of banana from that week you decided to hurl yourself into veganism. A tank with a starving gecko. The smell of our recycled breaths. The world is flecked with our residue, dust and candy wrappers.
(Now, when I need to calm myself down, I say to myself, it’s just me, I’m alone, thank god. It’s just me.)
(Quick, close the door!)
I remember the cheesecakes from the supermarket. Personal sized, punch in the gut size, whole fist in mouth size. Carried through the parking lot to the car to your house through the door with the sagging blue sash to your entrance and unwrapped finally in the beautiful bedroom. No time. Not even to breathe. I’d still have my coat on. For a glimmering moment, your dark hair smelled like outside and the walls were blue in the evening light.
(Bedrooms, beautiful or otherwise, have a literary history. Think Giovanni’s room, think The Beautiful Room is Empty, think, A Room of One’s Own. Think, why me? I’ve written about bedrooms before, but I keep going back for more.)
There’s more but it hurts to think back. I curdle when I remember the ice cream — the not eating, the watching you lay on your side and go through tubs (pastel mint, speckled vanilla, smoky coffee), my emotions melting down my sides and fingers gummed up. After you finished you kissed me even though I didn’t want you to and your lips were sticky and cold and thick like meat. I could have bitten them off.
I still haven’t shaken my habit of writing schön in replace of beautiful in my diary. I am schön, I will be schön, that feeling of knowing the dishes are all washed, how schön. I picked it up after learning a new language (isn’t that what all break ups are?). Schön does the job I guess, but that doesn’t change the fact that neither my mother nor father know what I’m saying.
I’m not finished yet.
I was not diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder until a year after we broke up. When I found out, I was red—you, you and the beautiful bedroom did this to me!—but I know that’s not really true and also if I’m honest, when I look back on the memories of our hunched backs marooned on your dirty mattress, surviving, I feel a twinge of something I probably once would have called love, would now call schön.
Jeannie Morgenstern is an emerging writer from New York. She is the copy editor for the Berlin-based magazine SOFA and has work featured in The Rational Creature. When not writing, she likes to read Jenny Offill and eat peanut butter from the jar with a spoon when people are watching.