(with apologies to Virginia Woolf)
In 1928, in a lecture at Oxbridge, Virginia Woolf stated that in order for a woman to write (fiction) “a woman must have money and a room of one’s own.” The financial aspect was to provide a woman with a degree of independence, and the room to provide a space “utterly free of distraction and interruption. A room with a door, and preferably a lock.”
Fortunately, in 2021, unlike their status in 1928, many women now have some degree of financial independence. A room of one’s own, however, is not always that easy to come by.
For the ten or more years that I’ve been writing these essays, we lived in a two-story house, just my husband, myself, and more recently, Sam the dog. My husband’s office was on the second floor, and my workspace was on the first. While not a room that was completely my own (in the evening, it morphed into the TV room), it did have a door which, when shut, succeeded in eliminating the voices that resonated throughout the house when said husband had his iPhone on speaker. Which was all the time. Silence is certainly more conducive to writing than overhearing a discussion of how one performed at a recent round of golf.
But, as many of you know, we recently moved. We traded our two-story house for an apartment, which, like most apartments, is on a single level. We chose this apartment because the living space seemed more than adequate for the three of us and the occasional visitor. Good closet space, more than one bathroom, and a kitchen in which we could sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee. What I failed to consider, however, was my continuing need for “a room of one’s own.”
With Virginia Woolf’s warning resonating in the small speck of gray matter which comprises the creative area of my brain, I scrutinized the apartment’s floor plan again and again, trying to discover space I could call my own.
“How about our bedroom?” my husband generously offered. (He had already claimed desk space in the room we were using for a den.) “It’s large enough for your computer.” I graciously declined, as I imagined my tranquil bedroom strewn with papers and mail that I would get around to organizing. Soon.
“So how about the guest room?” was the next suggestion. “We don’t have guests that often.” And we’ll have them even less often, I thought, if I have to share my space with Cousin Irving. (We don’t actually have a Cousin Irving, but you get my meaning.)
So one by one I eliminated other suggestions, like the walk-in closet or the dining room table. However, the dining room table was a serious contender for a while considering that in South Florida making dinner reservations is a way of life. But no, it would not do.
In desperation, I scoured the floor plan one last time, and suddenly the proverbial light bulb turned on in that small speck of gray matter described above. “Eureka,” I wanted to shout. But who says “eureka” nowadays? So instead, I ran to my husband to share my brilliant idea. On reflection, I should have shouted “eureka,” because he suggested that perhaps moving fatigue had finally warped my judgement.
But I would not be dissuaded. This space had great potential, and more importantly, it had a door! A door that, when shut, would drown out voices on speaker phones. It wasn’t a large space, but with some modification, could be made quite functional for my purpose. And fictitious Uncle Irving could visit and stay as long as he liked. (Because he was fictitious, I could afford to be generous.)
And, that folks, is how I came to set up shop in the laundry room! We moved things a little to the right, removed the abundance of cabinets, built a desk and drawers and shelves, and voila! A room of one’s own! Complete with washer and dryer!
“What about the noise factor?” you might ask. And you’d be correct to inquire. Washers and dryers are highly useful, but are not known for their silence. Well, you might be surprised to learn that “wash” and “rinse” are rhythmic, rather like white noise in the background. But it is unlikely that I shall ever get used to the spin cycle. Therefore, going forward, I will be resourceful and carefully coordinate my writing time with laundry day. And if I’m ever blessed with an intense creative streak, and have no time to spare for laundry, we shall simply have to invest in an additional supply of underwear!
And so, I happily sit in this room of my own, grinning at my own ingenuity. If not exactly what Virginia Woolf had in mind, it works for me. And who knows what level of inspiration might be derived from anti-static sheets and Tide 3-In-1 Laundry Pods!