A Door Of One's Own

Thursday, January 02, 2020

"To have a door that I could shut was still the height of bliss for me."

For my first book of 2020, I'm currently reading Simone de Beauvoir's The Prime of Life (La Force de l'âge) the second volume of her autobiography. I loved the first volume and the many pockets of wisdom she shares about her upbringing then student-to-adult life in Paris. She's so witty and has a great sense of humour and as my first time reading anything by her, I'm already a big fan. There are many lines from her books that resonate with me and this one in particular stood out for me today. I've been thinking a lot about how much I'd love a home of my own. 

Throughout my life I've often shared homes, sometimes even a bunk-bed with my big sister when I was a child then much later sharing halls as a student and then a shared apartment as a young adult. I remember in my second home in Scotland my parents renovated the small room into a bedroom for me, finally a room of my own! Funnily enough, I didn't have a door on it whilst renovations were happening, instead it was a cheap pink beaded curtain until a door was put in place.

De Beauvoir talks about freedom and how intoxicating it was to possess it when she returned to live in Paris in 1929 and how she'd longed for this feeling as a young girl, dreaming about being a grown-up. When I moved back in with my parents after a year of job-hunting post-university, I felt I lost that sense of freedom, or independence that I guess I kind of took for granted. I didn't realise how crucial it was to my life. The ability to come and go as I pleased, bring friends round whenever I liked and do everything on my own timetable. However at the time it felt right, to have the comfort and support of a real 'home' and not rented accommodation. It was what I needed in that moment. Reading this line from the book provided a little reassurance and instilled some patience about having my own home one day. De Beauvoir rented off of her gran in Paris, wasn't hugely wealthy, but for her, freedom was the most valuable thing. She was utterly content with a small room, which was her little haven in a crazy metropolis, a place to briefly shut the outside world out and be herself.

I think it's been playing on my mind lately as I'm at an age where some of my friends, or old friends, are getting their own homes, getting engaged and even having kids already. And the other half are working out life, living at home and/or renting. I'm currently renting a room in someone else's home while I work, and the house is gorgeous, spacious and homely so I'm lucky. However, I'm longing for that 'I'm home, in my own home' feeling. I got a small taste of having my own flat for a few months last year, and I suppose I miss it a bit! It had it's pros and cons. Though it could be a tad lonely, I loved the freedom, I loved that everything was mine, and I could wander around in my pyjamas or do the famous dash from bathroom/bedroom (lol), and invite friends round as I pleased.

As Simone de Beauvoir says in her book, after reading a story in Mon Journal about an English schoolgirl, she says "Here, within these gaily painted walls, she read and worked and drank tea, with no one watching her -- how envious I felt!". I guess you could call it privilege, to have your own home to do that, not everyone has that. Though I may not have a home of my own yet, I try to make anywhere I go, rent or wherever I lay my head feel more like 'home'. And as long as I have a door to shut (or a pink beaded curtain to parade through!), then I can feel the feeling briefly of having my own home, and that's good enough for now.