Although I don’t recall ever being told to “Go to your room!” the mandate most certainly captures a uniqueness which has for me more than an uncertain resonance. As I now like to quip, I grew up as a cave dweller. In boarding school the singular privacy was one’s rooms. I employ “rooms” in the plural because until I was appointed a Prefect in upper school I shared a room with another chap. In either instance one’s room or rooms was/were considered a haven of retreat from what was otherwise universal disclosure beginning with the Great Hall where we all dined, then chapel, classes, the locker room, the playing field, the tuck shop and the common room, not to mention the showers and the “cans”. Preserving the intimacy of one’s private devotions was a matter seldom accomplished other than by arising before the morning bell.
The ‘script of conduct in school was inordinately strict. Very little beyond the so-called “traditional” was tolerated. Even Col. John Eldon Dean with all his bluster and Kentucky wherewithal failed to convince the Headmaster to allow exceptional adornment of the Colonel’s digs. He had to undergo martyrdom like the rest of us. I don’t believe we accumulated anything of novelty upon the walls. Perhaps the bookshelves over the study desks afforded space for photographs but in those ancient days of my youth and before smart phones, photos were not imperative.
The material deprivation perhaps accounts for the spirited enterprise which in later life commonly characterized the initiation of a new space. I am thinking for example of my subsequent cave dwelling experiences in residence at undergraduate studies and later in the fraternity at law school. Yet even in my final year of law school when I finally got an apartment, I shared it with a young lawyer who had already overtaken most of the apartment with his own furnishings. Once again I was compelled to limit my residential priority to my bedroom only. I was reminded rather abruptly of the inadequacy of my limited furnishings when I prepared to move at graduation. When I asked the used furniture dealer what he would give me for the entirety of contents, he informed me that it was I who would owe him $50. Even reckoning that particular slight over 100 years ago, the memory nonetheless stings!
With the facility of aging plus a good deal of influence and contribution from my mother, and an uncanny predilection for Oriental rugs, sterling silver and mahogany, I was subsequently enabled to make up for lost time.
And now – but this time with the dubious facility of aging – I have reignited the erstwhile mechanism of furnishing my rooms. It’s called downsizing. I suppose I can entertain myself by acquainting the dissolution with going back to school. But I want to be very clear I haven’t for a moment regretted the evaporation of several thousand square feet. Not surprisingly the process resembles clearing the drawers of one’s desk; namely, cleansing. More bluntly it can be acknowledged that one tends to keep things which no longer constitute one’s favourite things. It is thus a painless dissection.
I shall now go to my room.