A room of one’s own or, getting sick.

Bright Autumn--6

Photo Credit: Robyn Lang (c). Used with permission. 

I apologise that there was no blog post last week. Once again I was stuck in bed, sick with a tonsil infection that knocked me out for a week.

Sickness is an especial time of strife in our home as my poor husband usually scrambles around trying to do the job of two parents. Sickness really reminds us we are quite alone, and that even the best friends and community in the world are no replacement for your own mummy and her “headache stories” and confident remedies. I find that times of sickness are the absolute hardest to be so far away from my family.

I imagine the ease of being able to call my mother from the same country , and ask her to pick up my son, or come spend time with us while I lay in bed.  I imagine asking my cousins for favours and knowing that they won’t judge me as needy and “not-together.” I at least won’t jeopardise my new relationship with them, I have known them all my life.

And then I wonder how much of this is fantasy. My mother is a busy deputy principal, not the full time nurse-maid of my dreams. And my cousins are probably all just as busy as I am. I am sure that life closer to my family would find a way to be just as filled with challenges, new challenges and different challenges.

It makes me realise though, the real price we pay for this millennial life where the world is so tiny and we can spread out all over it, and make new friends and live in interesting places and Skype back home like it’s nothing. I like it. In many ways, it works brilliantly for us. We have an independence here that is really splendid. We choose our friends, we make our life, we set out schedules and plans – how we want it. It sounds bratty as I write it, but for both of us this freedom has catalysed such intense inner searching and work that I can’t but think it is a very meaningful and good thing. I don’t necessarily want to live in a world where freedom is limited. I read a tonne of historical novels over the week I was sick, and in ages past, big, close families were very in and self-determination was decidedly out. In many ways, and I think of this often as I navigate my religious observance, the price of being part of a tradition and a community is giving up some of your choices together. Every real community I have been part of, even the political party I was a member of, was forged on that idea, that we are in this together because we are giving up the alternative together. Without that, it’s really just a interest-based swarm.

In my independent life, I have the convenience of not answering to my whole family for my choices, but I also have the inconvenience of often finding for myself that the price of having a room of one’s own is being alone in it.

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