One's Room

Chapter III – Part 1

Hello – This is the start to chapter three of You can read chapter one and two on the site or you can start here, you choose! How cool is that.

Laila woke up slowly. The smell of her room, the fresh feel of her sheets, and the photo of her family laying flat on the desk stirred a feeling of thankfulness, quietly waking, opening up. It was a feeling that collided with a more wandering desire to reclaim relational independence. A desire to be more honest with herself. Why hadn’t she stayed in her room more the last year? Why are so many of her things at Elliot’s? Why are the expectations of togetherness sprawled so carelessly inside western idealism of self? Questions she didn’t have answers to. Questions that led to more questions. She had spent so little time in this room the last year that she was starting to feel like a stranger in it. A stranger running through a forest, the trees her thoughts, her room was the knowing. The knowing grew the trees and the trees grew questions. Some of the questions evoked feelings of guilt and shame. She found those questions quickly and set them on fire inside her head. A practice of visualization she had learned. A practice that took practice. Only moments after waking up, her eyes barely open, a new question started to emerge. She had given herself mental silence and space, creating a chamber for her interior to listen. The listening led to asking – am I a stranger to myself?

It was a little past 10 am and mid-day sunshine was illuminating all the imperfections in the drywall. The unfinished cement ceiling was casting tiny shadows from the cruft of construction, like baby stalactites, growing without help. The Gino Sarfatti inspired chandelier, with its kitschy Edison bulbs, was fixed in a rigidity that aligned with the aesthetic it represented; flawed, trite, attempting. Laila didn’t align with all the ideas of minimalism, but her non-material upbringing gave her an awareness that generally created friction with the idea of “stuff”. So she tried not to have much. Opting to buy books instead. Books, almost all books, filled the empty spaces where plants or a floor lamp might be. Only a bed and a desk to fight the enormity of the books in her room. Milk crates on the floor, stacked, only containing books. If Laila was honest with herself, the materialism she despised was present with her unknowable amount of books.

Laila rolled in her bed and started feeling the weight of her decisions from the previous night, a slow creeping force of reality. Her eyes were closed but now she was more awake and present with the start of a new day. Laila didn’t like to dwell on the past but often found herself looking back, trying to see her decision-making in a more informed light. She wasn’t prone to nihilist tendencies but she empathized with many flavors of Roquentinian nausea, attempting to make sense of our current place and time, tracing all the decisions we leave behind, which is, she sometimes believed, senseless. In other moments, like the one she is in now, things felt more connected. Like the attempts at self-care and neoliberal incremental improvements are all going somewhere. But then simple, rational questions would counter that feeling. A random decision to see Kendrick Lamar at Outside Lands in 2015 was the precursor to moving to San Francisco. A decision that has shaped her 20s, a decade she’ll only live once, a decade that builds the first floor in the home of her life.

Nausea was a word that started circling in her head, thinking about her decisions and their connection, minutes into the start of her Saturday. How will she explain her actions to Elliot? She started feeling a weight of sorrow for stepping into the moment with such force. He didn’t deserve that. She imagined going to his flat today and getting her things. The conversation they would have. The requirements. The necessity of taking responsibility was clear. For her actions last night and her decision to move in a new direction with her life. I’m the one that’s changed, Laila thought to herself. She didn’t feel very confident about carrying this conversation forward. She knew it would be hard. She knew she needed to own her actions, the decisions she made, however random they were to have led her here, to this morning. How, she wondered, is my insecurity overlapping with the control I assume over my decisions? Is my insecurity, in its garish portrayal of intensity and assuredness, actually a bellwether for my wellbeing?

A sense of pride started to layer on top of her thoughts. Like a snowfall gently falling over the decisions she was watching herself make in her head. Thankfulness for her room, her books, the life she was making, existing together with a newly developing sense of self. An acknowledged sense of her power, that she can hold and care for her insecurity in ways that don’t require some mitigated display. Resolve was her friend. She would go to Elliots today. This morning. Talk with him in person and get her things.

Then, while looking at her ceiling and the sputnik chandelier, her phone, somehow not on silent mode, rang off a single note in C. It was Ian.

“Hi” he said.

This was fun to write. I feel more assured of the story and where it’s going this moment than when I started with Chapter Two. Switching into Laila’s world is fun. Excited for where it’s going.

Thinkings about two things this week.

The Course of Love
I don’t know much about Alain de Botton but looks like a big TED talk guy. Good for him. Like most things with relationships and love, this story ends with a summary of attachment theory. I don’t know if that is good or bad, but it’s true. An idea I took and am still thinking about, is that insecurity can be a guide to awareness of self. :thinking:

After finishing the a on love I needed to rid my good feelings about life and the future – so I started Sartre’s Nausea, which I worked directly into the storyline. Discussing the book with my brother earlier this week and he reminded me it’s in the pilot to Skins.

With No One
It’s been fun to create the inner world for this character. I’ll leave us with a third thing I’ve taken in this week, a Tove Ditlevsen poem With No One – which starts

With no one
can our innermost
be shared.
With what is
most important
in the world
we are alone.

Keep sharing friends,

Robb Schiller