Sunday, February 14, 2010

"A Room of One's Own"

When I debated leaving the first full-time job I'd had in 28 years and returning to life as a freelance writer, I acknowledged but casually dismissed the fact that, for only the second time in my three decades of marriage, my husband and I would both be at home. The first time around, I bristled at Alan's invasion of my space. I wanted a "room of my own." And that meant I wanted the whole house to myself. The arrangement almost ended our marriage; Alan went back to work full-time.

Now, here we go again. Only this time, Alan is 65 and retired. He may wish from time to time that he had a "real" job, but that ain't going to happen. Not in this economy, not at his age. So once we return to Evanston after our two-month journey in California, he will retire to his third-floor office, and I will retire to my office on the second floor.

The possibility of being under the same roof 24/7, 7 days a week is not one I relish. Don't get me wrong: I love my husband. But I still believe in Virginia Wolf's premise that a woman needs money and a room of one's own to write. Or, as far as I'm concerned, to breathe, to grow, to literally survive.

If the past month is any indication, I'm up against it. Granted, we're on vacation in a strange place with only one car. (The car thing is a biggie: Either we travel together, leave one of us alone up in the hills, or somehow figure out a drop off/pick up plan akin to driving a kid to school and making sure to be back on the dot to pick him up.) Once we're back on terra firma with two cars in the garage, we should be too through with the Bobbsey twin charade.

Establishing boundaries, our unique rules of the road, may be tough. I'll don my Zen robes and give active listening my best shot. I'll use clear "I" statements that bypass blame or judgment. I'll mirror, or restate, what my beloved says without adding my opinion. (Oh, that's a killer!) I'll keep my tone friendly, even welcoming, even when I want to slap him upside the head. And with any luck, he'll understand that I don't want to "do lunch" most days, that when I do "do lunch" with others it's nothing personal, and that a closed door means "Stay the heck out of my space." Okay, okay . . . a closed door means "Please do not enter."

Wish me luck, dear readers, because I'm going to need it!

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