Virginia Woolf‘s enduring gift of words that a woman should have a room of her own has finally hit home for me. In particular, Woolf’s talk where she offered these words referenced the intersections between women and writing fiction. In order to do so, women need privacy, autonomy, power — a room. Many have extrapolated that statement to go beyond the need of a room for writing. I too am embarking on that extrapolation.
As a girl and an only child until I was 14, I always had my own bedroom. There I played with my dolls, read books, listened to music, and talked too late into the night on the phone with friends. I was allowed to decorate it in the way I wished. My grandmother even let me pick out a painting at a mall art store to hang in my room.
I can recall playing pretend apartment. I lived in an apartment with my mother, but pretended that my bedroom was my apartment. I would close the door and pretend to jangle keys in the non-existent key slot. I had a play kitchen for a while where I could “make” my own meals. Sometimes in these pretend games I lived with my imaginary children, but just as often I lived alone enjoying my self, my imagination, my poems and songs that I composed. My bedroom was my world.
Fast forward to becoming a mother and wife by 21 years old and a room of my own was hard to come by. I shared a bedroom with my daughter and her father for a while. After we divorced, I lived on my own with my daughter for maybe a year or so. Then, I moved back to my mother’s Brooklyn apartment and took up my old bedroom. I bought a day bed that came with a trundle bed so that I could sleep with my daughter again by my side.
As a single mother who was a student and/or was working full-time, even when I had my own bedroom, it wasn’t like it used to be when I was a girl. For years it was just a place to rest, get dressed, and maybe read a little. I gave up on making a world that was just mine after I had a child. Everything that I did was towards getting a good education so I could get a decent paying job to take care of myself and my daughter. There was no more poetry. A creative life disappeared in the pursuit of stability.
Fast forward I have now been with my second husband for almost 17 years. In 2018 we moved into a four bedroom three-story twin…