Recently I spoke with a friend, Kate, who had just returned from a trip abroad, alone without her husband. She talked about how wonderful it was to travel and be responsible for everything without any assistance from her life partner. I sensed she didn’t know how to feel about that as she loves her husband and, of course, looked forward to being at home with him again.
I reminded her of the Virginia Woolf book A Room of One’s Own. It has been so many years since I read it, but I know I have thought of its basic premise often. Woolf recognized that women need a room to think and write. Well, what would she think of our needs now! Many of us have big houses with plenty of rooms, but we seldom are alone in those rooms: TV from the family room blaring, Smart phones in our pockets dinging the latest message, computers sleeping just waiting to be opened.
And our husbands want a room, too. That’s what the man cave is about. Occasionally over the years Bob has seen a neon sign or a funky poster and expressed how cool it is, but we don’t have the right place for it in our house. He doesn’t have a man cave. His mother didn’t allow certain items to interfere with her décor, and now his wife is probably doing the same.
Why is it that most of my blog entries are written in Illinois? Not some coincidence. Here I think of my past, and when visiting Mom’s assisted living home, I think of my future. I ride my bike on country roads, and there is little need to hurry back to the house. I don’t have laundry piling up or calls to make. My problems seem distant and more in perspective. My clothes, camera, and computer are my only belongings. I don’t have to clean much of anything. (Well, I did clean out the poop from my sister’s chicken coop. Oprah and Carol Burnett are doing a good job of laying eggs and messing up their space.)
Simplicity. Thoreau is our best American example; I don’t long for that sort of life. But I know that Woolf has a point: call it a room, an open road, a compartment in a cross- country train. It is the space that we all need, sometimes urgently need, to think and sort through the clutter in our minds.
Yoga and meditation classes have taken off. Churches are still in business. The need that I feel must be universal. We each have to find our space to be alone and rediscover every day just who we are and who we want to be. I’m not telling you anything that you don’t already know.
I think I’m writing to remind myself that I shouldn’t have this space only when I travel to my old home ground. For this morning it is a green metal rocking chair on Marsha’s front porch. A half hour ago it was my bike on a gravel road. That may be it for today. But how fortunate I am to have this space and time for now. And a kayak on the lake waiting for me when I return home.
In closing my blog on this peaceful summer morning, my sincere wish for Kate and all of you is that you find your space often, every day, wherever you are.