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I am sitting inside a carrot.
Burnt orange walls surround me. Rough brush strokes of this rusty shade streak the back of the door. Paint is hastily dripped in visible spots on the concrete floor. The room is about three feet by three feet and empty, except for me. As I sit on my throne, I feel slightly claustrophobic. Oh, my throne is made of porcelain. I’m sitting on a toilet.
The carrot is a bathroom stall. And I grew up in it.
In sixth grade, I began performing at my community theater. It was the third day of theatre camp, and I had to tinkle. I sauntered into the bathroom and immediately connected the color to the disgusting vegetable. An eleven-year-old comedian, I burst out of the dressing room, ran to my friends, and hit them with the one-liner; “It’s like peeing inside of a carrot!” They roared with laughter, and I accepted my professed position as “Resident Funny Man”. For the next five years, I would repeat these words over and over. For comedy.
The years went by, my joke prevailed, and the carrot hosted new affairs. In seventh grade it was where I changed costumes before I was confident in my body; where, in eighth grade, I took my nervous pees before going onstage, still warming up to the idea of performing for hundreds of people. Freshman year it was where I kissed a boy in a desperate and embarrassing attempt to find privacy. A horrible illness struck me during sophomore year, and in my carrot, I spent my time vomiting violently before every song. Junior year, my friend had a panic attack minutes before we had to perform the opening number, and I gave comfort to her there. Through it all, the walls were orange.
It might sound bizarre to say I grew up in a restroom. If theatre is what defines me, shouldn’t I say the stage fostered my childhood years? Maybe, but when one has been in a place for so long, sometimes the insignificant things truly show how much has changed there. That stall harbors so many of the lessons I learned by performing theatre. I learned not to be ashamed of the way I look, and to be confident in doing what I am passionate about. I learned that I really did not like kissing boys in bathrooms. I learned to persevere, even when it seemed impossible. I learned to be a friend when someone needed one. These moments shaped me, not only because of theatre, but also trapped between the four walls of a carrot.
At the end of junior year, I used that stall for the first time since it’s renovation. The walls were no longer graced with a sloppy burnt orange paint job, but enameled with a glossy white coat. I wasn’t sitting in my carrot; I was sitting in a bathroom stall.
I know there is no divine reason for the change in interior design, but I can’t help feeling there’s an extended metaphor hidden somewhere within the paint. The restroom that stayed so consistent in my upbringing is moving on to newer times–and I am too. This community theater has been my second home, but it’s time for a new adventure: for both me, and the bathroom stall. Maybe it will be a palace for a new young actress to grow up in; maybe she’ll even call it a cauliflower (although I think a carrot is much funnier). Sometimes I look for remnants of the old paint and only see the new white sheen, but if I look down, the drips of burnt orange remain on the concrete, reminding me that theatre shaped me into who I am. Not even a thousand coats of paint can make this bathroom stall anything less than the carrot that I grew up in.
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