I have never been jealous of things and people as I am when it comes to spaces. I don’t know why, exactly. I guess it’s just the way it is or – maybe – the way I am.
In my life I always had to share my spaces with someone else. Don’t misunderstand me: sharing my room with my brothers for the first eighteen years of my life has been amazing. I can’t imagine spending my childhood sleeping next to someone else than my brother or sister.
Thank God they were there. I had always been afraid of monsters and the dark scared me to death. But it couldn’t be that bad, as long as they were there,
I can still hear my myself shouting and crying the first time my brother spent the night outside, while he was on a school trip. It was horrible. And it took me years to get used to the feeling of sleeping alone.
But the older you get, the more you start feeling the unbearable need to have a place that you can call yours and in which you can put all of yourself. The walls, posters, lights: everything in a room must say something about the person who lives there. I needed a room to talk about me.
Then I left home. I moved away. And it got worse. My first house in London was a nightmare. A dreary slum, cold and dirty: if you paid attention, during the night, you could hear the mice running on the shelves of the kitchen looking for food, leaving their excrements everywhere as a reminder of their uncomfortable presence. I saw it as a successful attempt to mock me: haha, try to catch me!, they seemed to say.
And I did, sometimes I caught them. And every time one of those little disgusting things died I felt really bad. It was something I did not enjoy doing and that did not solve the problem anyway.
My first room in London was not mine. Again, I had to share it: with a friend and a complete stranger who eventually became my friend. It was not that bad after all. But it could not go on.
And here we go. After an endless research I finally found a flat to share with the people I had chosen. It’s the house where I live now. A beautiful house: three floors, just refurbished, clean and big, with a beautiful garden. And I finally had a single room: the smallest room in the house, 3x2, just the space for a bed, a closet and a very small desk. But it was enough for me. I said to myself: this will be enough. It’s small, but it’s mine, just mine and I decided to make it my place in the world.
When I entered it the first time it was all white. White bed, white walls, white curtains. I built it very slowly. I slept every night in that white bed, thinking of all the colors that I would give it when I’d had time. I worked 60 hours per week at the time, with one day off if I was lucky. I took the measures, went to IKEA in three different days: bought a small desk, a lampshade, new curtains: they were red. I rented a van and brought them home. And then I bought a duvet, and a mirror, and a big clock. I bought six pieces of wood and I made shelves out of them. And after one month and a half I unpacked my luggage and filled the shelves with my books, CDs, movies. I filled the wall with pictures, notes, posters. I did it: I made it my place in the world, a place where it would be nice to come back even after the shittiest day. Everything in this rooms, both the things that I’ve done and that I haven’t done yet, says something about me: it says something about the last five months of my life. I take a look around and I see everything I’ve been through and that I achieved. And I feel a little more proud of myself.
The thought that I would have to leave it haunted me since the very first day: it’s too soon to think about it, I said.
But life always finds ironic ways to fuck you up. It’s something you’ll never believe: my room may ‘’disappear’’, one of these days.
A few Chinese workers entered my room this morning and started yelling weird things in their language. Than I met my landlord, who said something very weird. ‘’They’re gonna have to work on the roof of your room. Make it smaller. Start removing your stuff and packing’’
Nothing I can’t handle, I thought. A few days on the couch and then I will be back in my room, I said.
‘’’They might even reduce the length of the room, destroy the walls and build new ones. It will be very small afterwards. Too small to be even considered a room’’ – she continued.
A few confused words, and then she left. She left me with the doubt that my room, in a few days, might not longer be my room. To be precise: it might not be a room at all.
And I know what you’re thinking, ‘’First world problems, find a new place and get the hell over it’’. But the thought that someone is going to destroy what it took me so long to build leaves me shaken. The fact that I am going to have to start it all over again – in a new room or in a smaller version of the old one – is making me sick. The fact that they are going to destroy the shelves that I built, rip off the pictures I hanged, stain the walls that I painted, is giving me creeps. The fact that in two months or so I might even have to leave my house - my nice and big house, the place where I made my first Christmas three and called home for five months - is making me sad.
It’s a sad metaphor. It makes me realize that nothing I have is truly mine. Nothing and nobody you have is yours forever. Everything and everyone comes and goes and at the end of the games you are all alone, by yourself, with a new room to build up with your bare hands.
Enough with this drama for today. I might receive good news tomorrow. Maybe my room will still be my room. Maybe I will have a new, bigger room, where I will finally have space for a beautiful, comfortable chair that I’ve desired for so long but could never have. Maybe. Or maybe not.
I will end this post with a few words from a song I was listening to a few days ago that now sounds amazingly prophetic:
‘’But if my life is for rent
And I don’t learn to buy
Well I deserve nothing more than I get
‘Cause nothing I have is truly mine’’