A treasure map of memories, translated…
On a certain evening when I was cooking with the rice cooker, I’d measured out the half cup of rice that’s just right for one person, and, like electric shock, I’d all of a sudden, felt how lonely it was, to be living all alone on my own…
From the Fortress of My Days of Playing House to My Hiding Place During the Teenage Years
I still recall that room that I’d had to share with my older sister. I’d used to think, that that, was it, the fortress: in a tightly cramped in room, with two desks, and a bunk bed. There’s NO more room for a closet, and so, when we needed to change our clothes, we’d headed over, to our parents’ room to do it.
We’d drawn up the boundaries in this space of ours. My older sister took the top bunk, there was her favorite rabbit stuffed animal, “Mr. Goody”, it was, a gift from her friend in the elementary years, and she’d only allowed me to look at it, but not touch it. I had, taped a ton of glow-in-the-dark stars on the “ceiling” of the bottom of the bunk beds, as the lights were turned off, they’d started glowing green, and accompanied me to dreams.
We’d also used the “fortress” to play house. There are railings around the bunk beds, the opening on the railings would be the doorway of our fortresses. (My older sister had it better, with the steps, which were turned into the river that protected the fortress). When we’d wanted to go into each other’s spaces, we’d knocked on the edge of the beds twice gently, “knock, knock, I’m coming over to your place to play.”
Sometimes, as the answerer of the door was caught off guard, we’d yelled, “wait, I have yet to fix up my bed!”, then, we’d tidy up our messed up quilts and sheets. But most of the times, we’d greeted one another with, “Welcome, the door’s not locked, come on in.”
My mother who’s very strict on our reading materials would ban us from reading comics and the novels, but, as children we’d all been diagnosed with a kind of illness called, “The more you’d banned the more we wanted” syndrome. And so, as my sister and I got farther away from our childhoods, our room became a fortress we’d placed house in to a storage place of our teenage years—everywhere, underneath the pillows, inside the quilts, were the secrets, folded in. The stuffed toy rabbit, and the paper stars are still there, watching us, as we’d devoured those love stories.
Leaving the Shared Space of the Dormitories to Having My Own Room
Since I’d left home to go to school at age fifteen, I’d lived in dorm rooms with three other roommates. The managements at the high school dorms are stricter, other than eating, sleeping with the roommates, we’d still had to keep our living areas neat and tidy. Although I’d become good friends with my roomies, I’d still felt that I was being ordered around.
In college, I’d gotten even farther from my home, if anything is up, with a phone call, my roomies would show up, faster than members of my family would. We’d lived together, we’d bought a huge pack of toilet paper, laundry detergent, with a six-servings rice cooker, stayed in 24/7, with our backs against one another, playing on the computers, and we’d told one another everything, the records of our conversations were reduced to the hyperlinks.
Thinking about it, in my life, I’d never actually had a room all to myself at all. With different patterns of sleep, different definitions of what clean is………in the moments we’d felt slightly annoyed, I’d had the thoughts of moving out. But, in the very end, I’d stayed by my roommates’ persuasions of having someone to share the rents, the foods, helping one another out.
Until I’d become a graduate student, when I’d needed more personal space, that, was when I’d moved to a place closer to the school, to rent a small room. There are a ton of suites for rent around the school, with every mansion, every building, the boxed out windows, with people who are somewhat related, yet living separately.
As I first moved in, I was so excited, a huge place all to myself, no need to line up for the showers, with no worries of who I might wake when I sleep at night, and, I don’t really need to keep my place that tidy either. During those first days, I’d not even gone into the research labs, other than heading out for classes, I’d stayed in my room mostly.
After I’d slowly gotten used to living in my own room, on a certain evening, as I’d measured out the rice to be cooked, seeing the half-cup of rice that I’d measured out, it was like electric shock, all of a sudden, I’d felt this solitude of living alone. And that, was when I’d come to the realizations, that compared to being alone with myself, I’m better at living as a part of a group.
And now, being alone with myself became a lesson. Sometimes it’s hard, sometimes, I’m feeling proud, at how I’d grown up a little.
When that loneliness wouldn’t go away, the few of us who are renting out would pay one another a visit. Although it was only a small room, but, we’d referred to our places of residences as “your house”, “my house”. As if a very small suite is enough, to carry our fantasies, our imaginations of what “home” is.
“We’d arrived downstairs to your house,” my classmates called.
“Welcome, the door’s not locked, come on it”, I’d replied.
And so, you’d desperately longed to have your own space, because you were never able to have a place all to yourself, because you had to share it with someone else, and now that you finally have this place, all to yourself, you started missing the days that you’d shared a room with someone else, because you’d lived on your own for a while, and, you’d started to understand, the importance of the connections of you and your families and friends.