October 23, 2014 | Rome, Italy | Clear 10°C

The longing

By Madeline Klosterman
Published: 2014-09-30

The details of your own apartment contain a private life unto themselves.

y weekend guests just left. It was a lovely visit and we had a wonderful time. But when their luggage crossed the apartment threshold and into the hall, I exhaled a secret sigh of relief.

I closed the door and slowly turned the lock. The bolt clicking into place was music. I fully exhaled.

I looked around at the emptiness of my apartment and was so grateful to be alone again. My thoughts and desires are reflected in my apartment's every choice: from the art on the wall to the books on the shelves. It is completely my world. I felt a deep sense of contentment.

It was at this moment that I thought of my friend Meg and an evening we shared many years ago.

In my mind her life was picture perfect. Her husband was a successful Hollywood screenwriter and Meg was lightly freckled with strawberry hair. She carried herself with a casual beauty.

I was invited to their house in Seattle, a large, well-furnished bungalow that overlooked Lake Washington south of the city. An extended garden was in full-bloom with azaleas and rhododendrons. Two honey-haired children played in the grass. I was more than envious.

After dinner Meg took me on a tour around the house. The spacious rooms enthralled me. "Your home is gorgeous, Meg," I told her. "It's really an amazing place."

"Yes," she nodded.

But it was a "yes" without enthusiasm.

I was taken aback. Something wasn't right.

"It is a nice home," she said finally, "but there's no place that is just mine, just for me." She became lost in thought as she spoke, her spirit diminished.

We walked through her bedroom where a four-poster bed, fireplace and bay window overlooked the lake. In the hall she stopped at a small door and opened it. Inside was an empty closet measuring a mere four-foot square.

"I'm thinking of taking this closet and turning it into a little room for myself. It should fit a table with a Buddha statue and cushion for me sit on."

As she stood at the door examining the space, I thought at first she must have been joking. With a house this size she wanted to sit in a tiny closet?

"The best part," whispered Meg, "is that I can close the door behind me and be alone; alone with my own thoughts. It's all I really want."

Meg's words and desire made no sense to me then, but all these years later her longing is no longer lost on me.

When I'm overwhelmed with my choices or disoriented at the pace of modern life, there's no better salve than my own quiet company. No fancy dinner, Broadway show or shopping spree can bring me more singular contentment.

I love having friends visit and companionship is a human comfort like no other.

But Meg and I share a common cause and our longing is the same; space to myself is all I really need.

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Madeline Klosterman

Often mistaken for a foreigner, Madeline lives in Brooklyn and works in Manhattan.

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