Give Me Space

August 5, 2008

Do you share your towels with your roommates? With your domestic partner? With your kids?

What about your laptop?

What about your working space/home office?

I’m happy sharing the kitchen, the living room, the bed, but I have my own personal ideas of MINE.

This may, perhaps, contradict the constant mantra of SHARE! that I recite to my toddler with the religious-fever of an OCD Tibetan monk, but I can’t help it.

I need my space.

I need my territory. And my territory is my journals, my towels, my laptop, and my work space.

My husband understands the first one. But he doesn’t get the towel thing – neither did my roommates in college, junior year – they dried themselves with whatever was nearby and I took to hanging up my towels in my bedroom.

I’ve given up on this one.

The laptop is a major point of contention in our house. My laptop, bought before we moved in together, is now kind of old. It moans and hums constantly, like a refrigerator about to take flight. It’s slow. It’s now missing keys, thanks to a curious toddler obsessed with her Letters. It’s an old, toothless, overweight specimen that I can hardly use for much. Even as I type right now, I’m on the newer, lightweight laptop that my husband’s been trying to get me to use for about a year now.

The problem? This computer is his. It’s got his stuff on it, his settings, his bookmarks in the browser. And he still uses it from time to time.

His argument: Why can’t we share?

Mine: I don’t want to.

I know; I’m being ridiculous. But I can’t help it. There’s some things I don’t want to have to negotiate time for. At the library, one checks out books and returns them, takes turns at the computer stands. That’s the library. At home, I want books I can thumb, drool over, even take notes in the margins of; I want a computer I can use at 4 a.m. when I wake up and need to write. I want a Laptop of my Own.

It’s even more important, right now, than the Room of One’s Own – though that is important, too, and another thing my husband doesn’t get. I have a desk set up in “our” office that I never visit, but a workstand in the art – laundry room that I love. The difference? “Our” office is full of his stuff, the art room is filled with mine. I’m fine with that. I don’t mind not sharing. He thinks I’m anal. He thinks I’m nuts.

I know I am not, because from Virginia Woolf to the author of The Mother Trip, women artists and writers and seekers and just women of all kinds have insisted upon, repeated their claim for some space in which to be alone, to sink into the relief of having to deal with only one’s own mind heart and soul. It’s not that we don’t like collaborating with our partners and children and friends; in fact, my ideal would be that I could sit at that desk in our office and work, laugh, trade ideas, share silent space… but I would still need that other art room for my own space.

Am I nuts? I was an only child, no siblings – did I just get used to having things my way, unto myself?