i slept here

Musician Henry Hall’s Childhood Bedroom: Ocean Views, Beanie Babies, and Ghosts

A roughly 7-year-old Hall, with his back to us, listens to his dad read to him and his two cousins during a sleepover in his childhood bedroom. Photo: Courtesy of Henry Hall

For the first couple years of my life, my family and I lived in a house in Beverly Glen, in Los Angeles. Then we moved to this California Spanish-style house, in Santa Monica. I lived there — and slept in this bedroom — from when I was around 3 years old until I left for college. I was a pretty anxious kid, I have a lot of separation-anxiety issues, and because of that, I felt very comfortable in my own space. After I went to college, my bedroom got made into something a little more like a guest room. But during quarantine, I ended up spending a lot of time in there. It’s still where I sleep when I go home, still very much part of my life.

You can hear the Pacific Ocean through the window.

The primary feature of the room is that huge window. It looks onto a backyard and then, beyond that, is a bluff that drops down into a sort of classic West L.A. canyon that, to this day, is still pretty secluded. That land has been bought and sold a million times; people have tried to build there but it never works out. On a really clear day, way off in the distance, you can see the Pacific Ocean from that window. There’s some acoustic thing where if the waves are big enough, you can hear them crashing from my bedroom. The sound gets sucked up the canyon. It’s the perfect way to fall asleep. But it doesn’t happen that often because we don’t get too much swell in the Santa Monica Bay. In the wintertime, when there are more waves, you get some crashing-wave sounds.

It had a green bed.

Yes, I had a green bed — there’s a lot of green in the house in general. When I picture our home videos of the house, the color palette is sort of based in green. There’s green everywhere. To this day, we have a very green — almost like a British-racing green — couch. It’s funky and tiny, barely fits three people. My parents must have been trying to color coordinate my life.

And a ghost.

When I was maybe 5 or 6 years old, I thought I had a ghost encounter in my bedroom. It sounds sort of silly now, but when you’re that young it can be a little traumatizing. I still vividly remember it: I was playing with a monkey stuffed animal and I whacked it on the floor. I looked up and my closet door was opening. I remember sprinting out of the room. I was so terrified. Thinking back on it, I know the reason that happened is because whacking the monkey on the floor crested a gust or force that made the closet door move. But I was so freaked — it was really scary.

Hall, at around 5 years old, in front of the closet where he (maybe) saw a ghost. Photo: Courtesy of Henry Hall

Plus lots of Beanie Babies.

You see the shelf beneath the window, how it’s raised — that was a chest where all my toys were. It was like a treasure chest. I had a humongous Beanie Baby collection and action figures and other toys. I would run into my room and open that thing and grab things and start playing. It’s probably the one thing I wish I still had. It was very utilitarian — very deep and very long. I think about the stuff I could store in there now, if it were in my apartment. It would be so sweet.

It was often quite messy.

It took a lot out of me to make it clean and organized. I would let the mess pile up to the point that it was so messy, the room was giving me anxiety. Then I’d go on a cleaning flurry. Cleaning has always been a zero-to-100 thing with me.

Except for the desk.

I was a pretty obsessive student and afraid of not getting good grades, so I spent a lot of time at the desk in my bedroom. The desk was pretty bare because I didn’t want any distractions. It was painted white, with a flat top and a lamp, and that’s it. Very somber, like how I imagine Dostoevsky’s desk. I think one of my cousins told me that the less stuff I had on it, the more productive I would be.

The bookshelves always held a “nice mix.”

I was very much into reading. I had The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and the other Narnia books, the Lemony Snicket series, Harry Potter — the sort of classic fantasy kids’ books of the late ’90s and early aughts. But a lot of “grown-up” books, too — Of Mice and Men. A lot of the books that were in my bedroom back then are in my bedroom in my current apartment.

But as I got older…

I realized that the Wi-Fi is by far the worst in my bedroom.

Singer Henry Hall’s Childhood Bedroom: Bay Views and Ghosts