February 16, 2012

A Room of My Own

Every woman needs a room of her own if she is to write...

Okay, Virginia, I hear you. And I fought you for years. I had my reasons.

A room is...confining. You can't be out in the world when you are couped up in a room. Better to spend your creative time in coffee shops and park benches, if not producing, then at least eavesdropping so that you will have things to write about later.

A room is...unnecessary. If I were to take a room of my own, I would have to find a new place to store our unused telescope, three broken snowboards, and the collection of Party in Cabo coffee mugs from our last vacation.

A room is...gratuitous. If I take a room, by my logic, somebody else will lose a room. Not anyone who lives in the house, mind you. But someone, somewhere - maybe those out of town guests I keep expecting - will not have a place to lay their weary heads. Worse, what if 'Crazy Uncle Earl' finally gets out of the halfway house and needs a place to crash for a few weeks while he 'gets his head together'? He might come wandering in, take one glance at my lilac painted walls, and high-tail it out of there faster than you can say rehabilitation. This could have been his one chance to really clean up but instead he's back in recovery and everyone in the family will hate me. Just because I took the room.

Okay. I'm crazy. After laying out all of my reasons on paper, they do seem a bit bizarre. But even so, having my very own room did not seem to mix with my feminine sensibilities. After all, I am the woman of the house, mistress of my domain. I have an entire home I can write in and there are numerous rooms - the kitchen, the living room, the guest bathroom - that already belong to me (at least according to the laws of who gets to clean them). But the moment I sit down to write in any of these afore mentioned rooms, the energies of my surroundings call out to me.

April...what are you doing? Clean something. Cook something. Sort something. You can't possibly write a story until all the condiments in your refrigerator are alphabetized, can you?

Inevitably, I leave my laptop for a nooner with Mr. Clean.

It wasn't until my mother, bless her heart, suggested I claim a room for myself that I had even considered this a real option. "Your husband has his mancave, you need to make a space for yourself." Hearing this from my mother was shocking. She had been raised in the 1950's and was chairwoman of the Women's Martyr Committee.

"What will the neighbors think?" I whispered as we conspired in a booth at Denny's.

"Dear, the neighbors won't even know."

And suddenly I was freed. My mother and I got to work, converting  a room used for bin storage into a space that was feminine, quiet, and all mine. I decorated the walls with old photos I had stored in the garage. Childhood dolls I had long since abandoned were resurrected on a thin, white shelf that ran the perimeter of the room. Old poems I had written and books I had cherished were stacked and scattered in places to remind me of the beauty and the power of words.

I had my room. My very own room. I was liberated.

I discovered something as I removed the junk and replaced it with treasures. All women should have a room of their own, not only to write, but to live; A space to remind them that they are more than employees, mothers, and wives. We allow our husbands and our children to have their space, but we often sacrifice ours. Why?

Now my room, my beautiful room, is the most inviting place in the house. I write here. I read here. I hide here. I live here. My husband often wanders in and I sweetly send him back to the pit he created for himself in the den. The focus, in this sanctuary, is on me. And it will only help me be a better wife, mother, daughter, friend, and writer, when I need to face the world.

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