A Room Of One’s Own
He slipped silently into my tiny house without me noticing, as I dashed about preparing for work. We were each as surprised as the other to meet in my small lounge, yet he continued to do a tour of my abode. As happy as I was to be in the presence of such a handsome fellow, I politely suggested to my neighbour’s Burmese cat that, now that he’d thoroughly investigated the source of the burning porridge smell, it was time he left. I’m teetering on the edge of being a crazed cat person who lives alone as it is, so actually having a cat in my house would probably be a step too far.
When I moved to Auckland after Sydney, I was dead set on going it alone in my own place rather than sharing again. I’ve had some lovely flatting experiences; chatting with flatmates in our fleece robes as we shivered in student flats, and meeting people that I wouldn’t have otherwise, but my final flat in Sydney took the cake for flatting-situations-gone-crazy-stressful and I couldn’t bear to go through that again. So I strode bravely into the realm of solo living, quashing the (Bridget Jones) fear that I might end up dying alone….and have no one find me until weeks later when I’m discovered half eaten by Alsatians.
The FreyaPad is small but mighty, and apart from the kitchen sink being half the size of some of my pots, its functional. My cobbled together pick ‘n’ mix of kitchen equipment means that when someone else finds themselves in the kitchen while cooking with me, they’ll undoubtedly ask the same question ‘Do you have an X, Y, Z?’ only to hear ‘No….but I have one knife which basically does everything I can force it to.’ My culinary and hosting skills were tested when I hosted a dinner party without enough chairs for all guests…and (to my horror) also not enough cutlery. One guest asked when my birthday was so they could remember to bestow me with a bulk order of cutlery so that no one else had to attempt to eat roast lamb with a spoon …ever again…
After I was forwarded an article about the potential health hazards of living alone, a workmate and I shared stories of living alone. We agreed that it’s always a sad realisation that you’ve passed the last few hours within the same room on your own, and are not really sure what you’ve done with the time. Or the days when the first person you speak to is the supermarket cashier. Living alone is a low risk option…a low interest investment rather than a high return gamble. I’ll never become best friends with my flatmates or discover fantastic new recipes from watching them cook. I’ll never fall in love with a flatmate, or the friend who they bring over a lot. But equally my flatmates will never be late in rent, be in the shower when I’m running late for work or be clunking around at crazy hours after a night out.
While I’ve compromised in how much my living space I have, I am able to use all of this space as I please. I store clothes in four different places, two of which are in the living areas, and even though this is idiosyncratic and slightly disorganised, I never really notice that I’m rooting around for clothes in the lounge because it’s all an extension of my space. My parents have a key to my place, which is very useful for when they’re in town, but it does mean that I’ve driven home at speed once or twice when I receive text messages saying ‘Just passing through Auckland. Will pop into yours and wait until you’re back from work.’ I’m a clean person…but not always a tidy person…and the FreyaPad has fluctuating levels of organisation, especially when I start storing clothes in places other than the designated four areas.
While I am alone, I am not lonely nor anti-social. I enjoy putting up guests in my ‘guest nook’, on the finest airbed $50 buys from the Warehouse. The irony is, I have been much lonelier and had less social interaction in various flats I’ve lived in. I have also surrounded myself with those I love through the objects in my house. My kitchen is a working collection of momentos gifted to me or bought somewhere special. I eat on an old table that used to belong to my grandparents, my lounge is lit by lights that Hannah gave me when she visited me in Sydney, on my shelf is the beautiful ceramic dish Sarah gave me when I returned to New Zealand – the caravan painted on the concave base symbolising my new beginning.
In ‘A Room of One’s Own’, Virginia Wolfe wrote that ‘a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction’. For now, my desire to have the latter counteracts any chance of having much of the former. But my own rooms give plenty of space to think, write and occasionally burn the porridge.