Thursday, December 28, 2006


Everyone needs a room of their own.

The twelve-year old in the house has his own room, finally, after a few years spent shacking up with his cousin, and a few months sprawled out on the couch in the living room, across from his uncle on the other sofa, and adjacent to the TV.

Now, solitude.

Toys are arranged carefully on the dresser; comics are neatly stacked; citations from school for work well done are stickered to the ceiling above the bed.

I think back to the two bedrooms of my youth, in houses long left but continually thought of. It's funny. I moved out of our first house when I was seven, the second when I was nineteen, but I still dream about them. Literally. I dream about going back, finding my old bedroom, dining in the kitchen, crashing out on the couch downstairs. In my dreams, though, the houses don't look anything, at all, like I remember them. Completely different. Entirely altered. I've had these dreams for many years, off and on. I go back, and what I remember is not what I see. My old room is no longer my room, yes, but it looks so different, feels so different, that I wonder if it ever was.

Then I wake up, and the pictures of my old bedrooms in my head are clear and pristine and kodak fresh.

For a child, your room is your world. It's the one place you can call your own, infinitely. The place where your dreams are collected and nurtured, day by day. Elsewhere, outside the door, drab rules the day: there are bathrooms, living rooms, kitchens to be cleaned and yards to be cut, adult places, parent places, but there, in that room, everything is the opposite of mundane. You can make of it what you will.

I would look out my window at the distant sight of the CN Tower and the skyscrapers of Toronto, across the lake, an hour's drive and a lifetime away, and I plotted how I would get there. I could stare at the sky and watch the waves of Lake Ontario and listen to the winter wind and lie on my bed and read my comics and believe that such a distance could be breached, given time.

Children need a space to breathe, stretch and imagine. It seems so simple, almost redundant, to talk about the importance of a room of one's own, but in many countries, many cities, in Canada and Cambodia, the Philippines and the Niagara Penisula, space is shared. Dreams are not horded; space is. Even here, where I live, just across from the house, five steps away, another ramshackle shed of brick and tin houses three or four people, together. Each sharing a room with another. Children and adults, too, not given a chance to look at the world in solitaire, for themselves.

A room, for yourself, with a view.

It may not be bliss, but it's a place, private and secure, individually molded, and sometimes, in this world, that's enough.

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