I think the bedroom is viewed as "sacred space" in America. We decorate, light candles, read articles advising us to keep the TV's and clutter out of that space. Proper Feng Shui comes to mind. Throw pillows. Color schemes. Things like that.
I've been thinking a lot about bedrooms.
About personal space.
About what is comfortable. What is "normal". What is...not.
I have 3 bedrooms in my house, and they are all rented out thru airbnb...ALL THE TIME. A lot of professionals who come to Worcester for internships, medical rotations, and short term jobs. They need a place to sleep and cook. A hotel is expensive and doesn't offer you much beyond a dorm sized refrigerator...maybe a coffee pot. An apartment won't have a lease for someone looking to stay for just 2 or 3 months (and usually aren't furnished). So...airbnb is where these guests go to search for a place.
I began by renting out one room. Then two. Then it occurred to me that I travel so much (well, pre-covid) and didn't really need my room...so I depersonalized it and moved out of the room 3 years ago. Where to go, though, right? I split my time between my house and my dads, but when I'm home I live in...the basement.
It's not a pretty basement.
It's not a finished basement.
It's...a basement. With spiders, mice, water leaks, and exposed piping. If the dehumidifier conks out, the air changes within hours, and plants start growing within days. I hear the furnace kick on, the washing machine running, the toilets flushing. I hear the floorboards above my head creaking as guests walk about the house.
Having traveled a bit, and living in India for much of the last 14 years, I have come to understand that there's so much more to our lives and our spaces. Mostly, I stay in hostels and share bunkbed situations with up to 15 other travelers to save money. You share bathrooms, kitchens, common areas. You bring earplugs. You do the best you can to get a good nights sleep and then go out to explore every day.
In India, entire families sleep in the same room. They lay out modest mattresses in the evening, sleep together, and then put the mattresses away in the morning so that the room can be used for other purposes. It may be the only room they have. There IS no personal space.
I am by no means a world traveler. I tend to go back to the places I love over and over and over...there are so many places I haven't been. But I have often thought that our notions of what our homes should be, what our lives should be, is fairly...inflexible...in the USA.
When I first began to shift my house situation, sometimes the subject of sharing a house with strangers would come up in conversation. I'll admit, at first I was opposed to sharing my space. At all! Over time, I have seen how sharing space has changed my perspective on a lot of things...and that I'm not stuck on particular ideas about personal space anymore. It's fun sharing my kitchen, my yard, my home...with travelers.
It's been a freeing experience. It's also been a life saving experience. The truth is, if I hadn't begun renting rooms, I would not be able to even afford to live in my own house. I'm grateful, and happy that I gave myself the opportunity to try. It's made my life more interesting, and more flexible.
I can't say this approach would work for everyone, but it's the best thing for me.