There’s something about reading a novel…really reading it, feeling it to your core. Much like every experience in life, it’ll change you. And once I’m done with a novel, I can’t help but become introspective. I can’t help but sit and think and feel.
When I finished reading Room, by Emma Donoghue, I was struggling to find my story within her story. That’s what we do in the From Left to Write Book Club. It’s a nice deal. I sign up for the books I want to read. They send me the books for free! And then I find my story from the story I read. It’s a pretty sweet deal.
For me, this time, I was struck by how my life has evolved, how my living situation has changed through the years. I remembered a time…or a couple of times…that I lived with my mom in her condo with the kids. On one particular occasions, I stayed there on bed rest for Rachel in what was the den in the basement. I slept on the sofa bed. Mom had created a make-shift kitchen, since she was still working and I wasn’t supposed to brave the stairs, but would definitely need to eat during the day.
I had my dorm fridge, the big one, and a toaster. I had paper plates and cups and silverware, pretty much everything I could need or want. It was magically supplied to me. My mother would come down and visit with me after work. She’d cook dinner for us and we’d eat together in my one room. She made being on bed rest bearable. But after six weeks, I had more than a little cabin fever. In the book, it made me wonder how Ma could survive her one room for seven years.
There are times I long for some alone time, for some solitude, for a room of one’s own. There are aspects of that situation that I think I might really like. In the months that I lived in an apartment on my own with the kids, I began to embrace my alone weekends. I transitioned from being afraid of being alone, needing to have every minute of time taken up with friends and activities and dating, to being finally happy and comfortable in my own skin.
I shared a room with Rachel during that time period. We have a healthy relationship, for the most part, that was put to the test many times while sharing a room. I was in her good graces, sleeping on her trundle bed…a place we nicknamed Narnia. It was a challenge sharing the bathroom. She’s a slob. It was a challenge for her reading when I was writing on the computer, or sleeping when I was writing on the computer (no wi-fi), or sleeping when I was watching Hulu on my computer.
Still, there were ways for us to get away from each other. We had the living room. There was a dining room. And of course, there was the great outdoors. We could take walks. I could take drives.
At the same time, I miss some of the closeness we had when we were so close, living in such close quarters. I miss the nights that we would be curled up together with Keenan in Narnia watching television on the laptop. I miss our nights eating dinner together on an end table that was our coffee table.
It was a life of simplicity. We had enough. And we rarely complained.
Now we’re in a house, again, where everyone has a room. (Okay, I still share mine.) And we have extra space…a study, a man cave, a screen porch, a patio…in addition to the great room and dining room. And I’ve discovered that while it’s nice sometimes to have some space, it’s also easy to lose each other, to lose the connection and the family focus. It’s easy for people to get caught up in going their own way.
There’s good and bad in everything.
This post was made possible and inspired by a book from the From Left to Write Book Club.