Yes, this is a choice. Yes, there’s a bigger picture. Yes, I’m gritting my teeth and holding out. Yes, I can’t possibly justify renting a place when I can stay at my parents’ for free and I’m not there half the time and I’m trying to start something and I have no income andandand.
(If I sound out of breath it’s because the horrible chow-chow got out again and I triggered an asthma attack trying to get the deaf dog inside the house so I could leap into the car to catch the bastard. I am not in a good mood.)
But oh god I miss having a place of my own.
I miss knowing where my stuff is. I miss not having my things chucked out the window by a certain eccentric relative. I miss getting to place furniture where it looks like it belongs, instead of random corners where there’s room. I miss being able to look at things that are meaningful to me. I miss having walls to hang my paintings.
Defining your space is a way to define your world. It’s a way to control something, anything, when all around you is chaos. Walk into any open plan office and look at the way the cubicles are decorated with photos and lolcats: something, anything to say this is mine.
Even as kids, most of us have a room of our own. Our bedrooms are filled with our things, places we shape like bower birds, and from which parents are barred. Later we expand to fill entire houses. I haven’t had that since I lived in the townhouse we rented when I came back from Australia.
I remember how, when I looked at the bedrooms at Home of Hope, how moved I was by the toys so carefully arranged on each bed. It was shared space, but a little piece of it belonged to that one girl and nobody else. Even in the midst of hardship, we seem compelled to claim territory for ourselves, and that territory always involves 1. stuff and 2. a place to put it.
Can we be fully human without this capacity to define the world around us? I am not sure we can.
Being a bywoner is bloody hard. I joke about living in the cloud, how my life is plug and play depending on where I happen to be, and that I am defined not by things but tasks and relationships.
But oh I want my stuff again, and I want space to put it. I want a place of my own, and I can’t have it.
I think it’s time for wine.