Monday, 1 November 2010

A room of one's own

I did have one. I had an entire flat, in fact, with my very own damp problem, my own open fire, my own choice of wall colours and my own company. The last of these, initially my favourite, became a kind of burden and I learned how to share space again.

Luckily for me I have shared my space with a person I appreciate for the last two years. We even have our own rooms, aside from a big sitting room and plenty of bathroom. I love my room. It is filled with beautiful detritus, pieces of places I have been to, gifts from people I will never forget. I also love my desk, even if it is invisible under layers of bank statements and annotated drafts waiting to be re-read. It is the place where I write and think and sometimes just pretend to be doing these things; it is my haven.

The room itself used to be this. Then it became the shared sleeping place, the repository of late night teacups and pieces of clothing dumped in a haze. The sacred space receded, until the desk, being furthest from the door to this long room, was all that was left.

I could probably live with this, if my desk came with an automatic shield that descended around it (and me) like the carapace around the batmobile. Or if it was actually inside a tiny shed, with a hole cut on the other side so I could see the moon through the room’s window. But the problem is not the desk; it is the bed.

Only a cruel person would stop their loved ones from crawling under the duvet when they need to, even if this is at 8pm on a mild Monday evening. I am not so heartless. Is the light turning of a book’s pages several feet away really such a distraction for a seasoned writer? I can write in cafes, pubs, on trains, at festivals; I can surely deal with this.

Neither should the gentle trill of a loved person’s nose as they drift into sleep at 8:24pm pose a challenge. After all, a sleeping person cannot interrupt the flow of thought…

Should I blame myself, I wonder? Is it some trait in me that turns on the ticking of awareness when another body is nearby? Is it an excuse for my own failure to focus?

Perched on the edge of the couch in the sitting room, glaring at the rack of damp washing that is now my company, I resent my own quiet rage. I resent my banishment from the haven, but it is self-imposed, it is my fault. Share, I tell myself. Give and the world will give back. But it won’t give me back my room, and I don’t have the heart to take it.

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