The other day I came to the stunning realization that while I (partially) own a house, which has many rooms, most of which I have laid out, decorated, and in many ways control. But none of them is my room, my secret hiding place.
Throughout my childhood I had a series of secret hiding places. This was true even when I had a room of my own (a non-universal trait of my childhood – I shared rooms with both my siblings at some point). I was thinking about those rooms the other night, as I foolishly went to the attic during tornadoes (while sensible people moved to basements!) In my fantasy life, I turn that small attic room with its long view across fields to a New England town center to my personal little private place. A place that is mine, and no others. A place that is not child-proofed, sensible, or public. I go there to read books undisturbed – perhaps a secret stash of Peanut M&Ms hidden from marauding sweet-toothed children.
For some reason, my childhood secret places all had a desperate need for a ‘fridge. In one, during a brutal winter in the usually clement Northwest, my heart was delighted by the gap between the plastic window-covering and ice-reamed window.
I’m thinking, now, of all those secret places – the gaps that seemed so trivial to grownup eyes, but were so invested with mystique by childhood. One was turned into a bedroom for my sister (Oh! The tragedy!) One remains unfound, mysterious and mouldering by the river. One collapsed, held up by weak and compromised softwoods. Several quiet spots in the woods, protected by a canopy of trees, are now marked by a self storage facility, or a clear-cut.
I am not entirely sure I’ve ever gotten past that need, though. It’s not the place I need now, but the quiet. The being unfound and unsought. I need not so much a place to myself as a time to myself – to read those novels by poor light while eating an unreasonable number of Peanut M&Ms washed down with water cooled in my “refrigerator”.
That attic room, so remote and lovely, is really my mother-in-law’s room as much as it’s anyone’s. She certainly spends a preponderance of her time there. I usually only lurk up there when it’s present wrapping time – during which span the room feels chaotic, not peaceful.
One of the great joys of parenthood is to see your own childhood pleasures experienced by your children. This is one I’m unsure about, however. Grey hates being alone. Oh, he’ll do it when he has to. But where I wandered off and hid, he’s always here and present. He needs constant company (and usually of a higher caliber than just kid brother, although kid brother will do if nothing better presents itself). It’s early with Thane to tell if he will treasure quiet aloneness or not. Quiet aloneness is not an attribute that 2 year olds are noted for. But perhaps he will find some quiet corner (with or without refrigerator) and claim it as his own.
Did you create little havens for yourself? Do you still? Do you have a spot that is (or feels) uniquely yours? Do you miss it? Do you have a surfeit of aloneness, and wish for a little more shared space and tumult?