I should have been touched, charmed by the sweet innocence of a six-year-old. However, my reaction was the exact opposite—pangs of juvenile jealousy, unfelt for many years, rippled through my body as I mustered a smile and a high-five. Sure, I was “home,” but my home has been invaded by an imposter—one who is trying to replace me.
The imposter is my niece, Morgan. We share a first and last name, as well as some unsettling physical similarities. And our exchange took place in what was—for 18 glorious years—my bedroom. The room and its inhabitant, however, are currently unrecognizable. As I stood surveying the damage, I realized it was total destruction, no trace of the room’s real occupant left among the debris. My clichéd Einstein posters were replaced with haphazardly-hung drawings and finger-paintings. My trophies were relegated to “storage” upstairs. My bookcases were restocked with Dr. Seuss, The Berenstein Bears, and strange dragon-themed books that I can neither understand nor pronounce.
Standing underneath a new Crayola Crayon ceiling fan, suffocated by freshly-painted pastel walls, I had a great urge to tell this charlatan that the “Morgan” etched into the nightstand was referring to me, that she should count herself lucky to be sleeping in my old bed, and, most importantly, that she was to vacate the premises immediately—if not sooner. Unfortunately, I resisted and have spent the last two weeks as a displaced person, enduring restless nights on the living room couch.
Morgan and my brother moved in with my mom a few months ago; the relocation meant that pseudo-Morgan needed a new room and a new elementary school—both of which turned out to be my formers. Last week, I drove her to her first piano lesson from my old piano teacher, and she’s using one of my old softball gloves for summer T-ball. This all has one conspicuous consequence: she is quickly replacing me, pushing my legacy to the margins of my family’s memory.
When my mom first noticed that I was suffering from this variant form of sibling rivalry, she laughed and sighed, “Oh, Morgan. Don’t be silly—you don’t live here anymore.” Instinctively, I shot New Morgan an accusatory glare; luckily, she was engrossed in a Disney movie (probably mine), missing my embarrassing display of childish resentment. I turned back to my mother, the traitor, who just shook her head and smiled.
Of course, I have been acting and reacting irrationally. I left home a few days after high school graduation and haven’t been back for more than two weeks at a time in the last four years—why should I care that my room has been reclaimed, even if by this bedroom-defiling fraud?
I’ve been affected by this new presence because it represents a change in a world that has remained relatively the same since I’ve been gone. I may only go home for a couple of weeks a year, but my room—and my status in the house—has always been preserved, allowing me to return and fall back into a place reserved for me. Apparently, my family goes on without me while I’m at school 2,000 miles away, but for that brief time when I return, I wouldn’t know it; it always feels as though the world paused while I was gone.
As I’m leaving for my new home in New York for the summer, I know that this strange jealousy phase is fading. It is me who will soon become negligent in calling home; before long, I’ll become absorbed by my work, my social life, myself; and it won’t matter to me that the new Morgan is making my room her own or that she’s stolen all of my old monogrammed belongings.
And, of course, Little Morgan deserves none of my ire; she is adorable, funny, smart, and sweet—she does have good genes, after all.
Morgan R. Grice ’06, a government concentrator in Winthrop House, is editorial chair of The Crimson. She is writing a song to the tune of “just the two of us” to sing with her mini-me, and will perform in the Editorial Office this fall.