Room enough

For those of you who  have not read the book Room by Emma Donoghue , I will not spoil the ending.  But I am  not giving anything away when I tell you that it is about a woman and her son who are held captive in a tiny room for years.  The book, told in the voice of the four year old, did not make me cry, even though, it is heartbreaking (for reasons that surprised me) and horrifying.  The boy's voice is so true and full of wonder and curiosity that it is difficult not to see everything from and be compelled by his untroubled perspective.

I think, my lack of emotion, was also because it reminded me so much of my own experience with young children at home in the country, with no car.  We lived in a house, but  the living room is where we spent the majority of our time.  Unlike the Room in the book, we had a big picture window looking onto trees and, of course, I could leave it whenever I wanted to.  Even though we had plenty to eat, we tended to eat extremely simply, canned soup, apples, and toast, day in, day out. I was not held captive and despite the isolation, I did not even feel like I was being held captive by the situation. Our days were mostly great, we have good friends and family who would visit and a splendid property to explore on nice days.  I know for a fact that many mamas and babies are similarly contained and way more isolated in small rooms in apartments in the downtown of cities and being on a secondary highway really was no worse.

People asked all the time: "How can you do it? Don't you go crazy?"
I look back, over my shoulder at those times and wonder, "yes, how did you do it?"

I missed out on Kindermusik and its ilk, but 95% of the time I was content to sit in that room, and breastfeed and day dream and tidy up and chat to my three year old and pray that my infant would sleep and look out the window some more.  Sure, there was boredom, but there were also a lot of messy crafts to do and lunch and coffee. Sure, there were long days, but there was also a lot of room left over for emerging imaginations, for both of my children and me.  If you asked me to do it right now, I couldn't.  There are a lot of obtuse commitments, not to mention older children and a job, built into my life right now that would make that room too small. But then, things were different.  That room, where we spent so much time, contained us just fine.

"she knows that Room cannot contain either indefinitely. . . . "

A big part of the day was waiting for and retrieving the mail.  I'd wait to hear the crunch of the wheels at the end of the drive which signaled that the mail truck had come.  Later, Canada Post moved it 1 kilometre down the road.  Coincidentally, a local person opened up a diner at the community mail boxes and I had a destination to get the mail and a coffee and another adult.  Before that, the destination was a beautiful beach which had a chip wagon that served ice cream about 20 days a year.


"Room is the world. 
Room is home."

Back then our world and our home was that room.  It was enough.  
I miss it.

Excerpts from the book jacket of Room by Emma Donoghue.


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