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August 23, 2010

A Room of One's Own

In March, I spent $130 signing up for ten yoga classes, of which I’ve gone to two, and my pass expires this week. Which is good actually, because then I get to feel less bad about the money that’s gone to waste. I’m not typically a quitter, or one who doesn’t follow through, but when I signed up for yoga class, thinking it would give me a fine escape from the stay-at-home nature of stay-at-home-motherhood, I really had the wrong idea. After a long day alone with a pre-verbal midget, the last thing I need is to be silent in a room of levitating hipsters. It is also distinctly possible that I just picked the wrong yoga studio, but that is another story.

What the story is, however, is that it turned out I didn’t need that much push to get out of the house after all. Yes, indeed, I could probably do with more exercise, but I’ve also joined a fabulous book club, take part in an incredible writers group, and do some work for a charity’s board, and that takes care of quite a few evenings each month. And I enjoy these evenings out so completely, their social nature in particular, because it turns out what I need at the end of the day is company and conversation, but I didn’t know that in March.

Similarly, I have abandoned my garret. Tragic, I know, that the garret is forced to make do without me, and I find myself garret-less. And yes, the garret was a bit bleak, actually being the back of my very strange bedroom closet/storage area, and now it’s packed to the sloped ceiling with newborn baby gear (which, yes, we haven’t gotten rid of. Though it won’t be put back into use for a very long time), but it was a garret, and it had a window, and an outlet, and it was nothing to scoff at, being a room of one’s own. Or at least a corner of an expansive closet of one’s own, which was plenty.

But it turns out that after a day at home alone with a young child, spending an evening alone in the back of a closet is bad for the soul. Or so I imagine, having not bothered to try. For the last year, my office has been a chair in the corner of my living room, by the window with my laptop, with my husband busy at his actual desk on the other side of the room. I miss him when he’s at work, and when he’s home I like to be close to him, even if neither of us are talking and both of us are working on various projects. I’ve contemplated moving back upstairs, but this arrangement seems to be working, and so my desk in the garret sits terribly empty, a magnet for layer upon layer of dust.

One of the best things I own is my A Room of One’s Own tea towel, which was a gift from  my friend Paul. Due to its literary nature, it used to hang in our library, before the library became Harriet’s room. Since then, the tea towel has been homeless, and I’ve wondered where to put it, no longer actually having a room of my own (or rather, now that my room of my own is usually empty. Which would make hanging the tea towel there particularly sad).

Last night I finally hung it up in the living room, on the last bare spot left on our increasingly riotous walls. True, this room isn’t one of my own, but I’ve decided to regard Woolf’s idea as a metaphor. This idea underlined by Rachel Cusk’s suggestion that perhaps the greatness and distinction of women’s writing came from women not having rooms of their own, from their novels being composed amidst the hustle and bustle of family life.

Perhaps she’s right, or maybe that only works for some people, and I’ve no doubt my mind and my location will be changing one of these days, but having the tea towel up again, I feel that I’ve arrived somehow. Or that I’m home again, settled, and that it’s not so much a room of my own that I need as much as simply room.

*I guess this is my how NOT to be alone post. I never claimed to be consistant.

4 thoughts on “A Room of One's Own”

  1. Kristin says:

    I am completely with you on this one. When we just had one child, we had an extra bedroom. I turned it into my studio/writing/library space. I loved it for the studio aspect, because you kind of need a dedicated space for producing art due to the mess, but for writing…didn’t work for me. I felt the same as you; home all day with a baby/toddler = need to be in the company of an adult in the evening. We would sit together in the same room and do our separate activities, and maybe we wouldn’t even talk, but we were together. I always felt lonely in my studio if my husband was home. I did use it during the day when my son was napping, though, and I miss that.

  2. Carrie says:

    ummm … I hope you didn’t buy the yoga pass because of all of my over-enthusiastic posts re the wonders of yoga. (love your description of “levitating hipsters”)!
    And I totally get how you’d need adult conversation rather than quiet in the evenings. As the kids get older and louder and no one naps anymore, I find I need both adult conversation AND quiet during the off hours.

    1. Kerry says:

      No, Carrie. Your enthusiastic posts just make me feel worse about not bothering to go 😉

  3. I’m glad you didn’t leave your tea towel in your empty Own Room all alone: poor thing.

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