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July 13, 2018 Nonfiction

Things in my Room: The Bunting

Martha Grover

Things in my Room: The Bunting photo

Oh, the bunting.  

A year ago I went to a reading at a local coffee shop and got really distracted by the bunting that hung from one end of the ceiling to the other. I felt like a baby staring up at one of those mobiles above their crib. I wasn’t listening to the reader, I was just staring at the ceiling watching the little flags cast shadows on the wall. I complimented the owner on my way out.

“I love the streamers!’ I said, pointing.

“Oh yes! The bunting,” she said. “We put it up at our grand opening and then liked it so much we never took it down.”

Aha…that’s what it’s called – bunting.

I became obsessed with the idea of bunting. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I wanted to make my own. I thought it would be the perfect use for all those bits of fabric I’d been collecting in a plastic comforter bag in my tiny bedroom closet. I had old skirts that didn’t fit me anymore and batik dresses that were ripped and discount curtains I’d bought from Ikea.  Finally, I could put those to good use instead of having them hanging around, taking up space. I’d cut them up and sew them to a ribbon and stream them across the ceiling of my bedroom. I could train my houseplants to grow over and around them. Pretty soon I’d be living in a jungle paradise!

I started talking to people about my plan. But I soon discovered that when you start talking to people about bunting, you find that no one knows what bunting is. And when you explain what bunting is, no one is nearly as excited as you are about the bunting.


And then I thought I could also use the bunting for decoration at the birthday party I was throwing myself that June. The birthday party was going to be a garage sale/fundraiser for my trip to Rome. I asked for donations from my friends for things to sell at the garage sale. But I’d also clean out my own garage. It was full of a bunch of stuff I wasn’t using or didn’t have space for. Two birds with one stone.

I went to a fabric store and bought more fabric for the project and hired my sisters to help me cut out over fifty triangles of fabric. Then I went to my other sister’s house and she showed me how to sew them onto ribbon with her sewing machine.

The bunting looked awesome.

Before the party, I’d put the rest of the bunting up in my room, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. My roommate told me she thought it might be a fire hazard. “Maybe don’t burn any candles in your room now,” she said.

On the day of my party, I’d say, “Look, I made all this!” And I’d open the door to my little bedroom and gesture at the ceiling. I was excited to show my friends what I’d done. But before they could say anything, I’d blurt out, “Yes, I know it’s a little crazy. It feels like clown-town in here.”

“No,” they’d say. “I like it!” They’d hurriedly assure me the bunting looked great.

Maybe they could tell I was insecure about the frothy, colorful fabric hanging from my ceiling. No one said anything bad about my bunting, but it made me feel even worse about the whole thing –  that I was fishing for compliments about the bunting that I’d made from old dresses. Were they just blowing smoke up my ass? I needed an honest opinion about the bunting. I felt like my life depended on it. Was I making any progress here, or just spinning my wheels?

I used the rest of the bunting that day for my outdoor birthday party and it rained. It poured half the day. My bunting got soaking wet. And I didn’t get rid of very much stuff. I did make money for my trip but ended up with more stuff than when I began. One bird one stone.


After the party, I took the wet bunting down and rolled it up in a paper sack and put it in the garage. I felt defeated. I hadn’t done anything useful. What was the point of this Goddamn bunting?

It took me six months, staring at the ceiling of my bedroom to finally decide to cut most of the bunting down from my bedroom walls. I put the extra pieces out in the garage with the rest of the stuff that doesn’t fit in my house.  My bedroom looks much better now. Not so busy and overwhelming, with just enough going on to catch my eye in the hours I spend in bed, writing and working. I will figure out what to do with the extra bunting in the garage one of these days. I’ve made my peace with it. And besides, I enjoy lying in bed and watching my houseplants grow, ever so slowly, stretching towards the light.


image: Martha Grover