All I ever wanted growing up was a room of my own. Like Virginia Woolf, I fantasized about some sunny, airy bunker that would be mine and no one else’s. It would be a haven against unwanted influences, a grotto of creativity. In my mind, I arranged and rearranged the furniture of this hypothetical oasis endlessly. The desk would go against the far wall, right beneath the windows for maximum lightly, or angled off on a diagonal if I wanted to make room for a cushioned window seat. Sometimes I had a drafting table as well, side holders crammed with paints and brushes for whenever the artistic mood struck. Dramatic, haunting paintings–not prints–hung on the walls, their unrelieving intensity broken up by framed poetry calligraphs on parchment. And of course, the books: piles and piles and shelves and shelves of everything I loved, learned through, and shamelessly stole from.
The room’s location varied as often as its design. At first I tended towards castle turrets reachable by winding staircase only, or secret rooms concealed behind hinged bookcases. After I moved north, my priorities shifted to windows and lots of sunshine. And if it came with a lake view or was up in a treehouse in the middle of forest, all the better. At times I thought that all I needed was a room like any I’d ever imagined throughout my life, a place I could retreat to and shut out the rest of the world, and I would want nothing else.
Last year, we bought a house. Two bedrooms for one couple. I claimed the second bedroom as my own and declared that no one would set foot in it without my express invitation. Furthermore, when I shut the door, I was not to be disturbed under any circumstance whatsoever. You could shove pizza under the door to keep me alive, but don’t you dare try to turn that doorknob.
I got my desk, my bookshelves, my windows. I arranged and rearranged furniture. And then, somehow, I never went in. Papers collected in haphazard piles on the floor. The PC I inherited from an ex-boyfriend sat in a corner and pined for lack of use. Only the books remain clean, though they leave tracks in the dust whenever I move them on the shelves. I can’t even remember the last time I sat down in my office chair. Instead, more often than not I find myself at the kitchen table with my laptop, the clutter of shoes and backpacks and airplane-sized snacks everywhere and my fiance cooking or watching TV on the couch, a space as crowded with his as with mine and not a single painting in sight, and I don’t feel like I’m missing a thing.