My room must be on the most well-equipped rooms in my village—not because I’m fabulously wealthy or anything, but because for most people here, a room is a place to sleep, and that’s about it. My host family was actually shocked at the amount of time I spent in my room in those first weeks at site; they thought I was depressed or offended at something. The real problem, of course, was that I’m an American.
Maybe it was different in the past, but going back several generations we Americans love our bedrooms, spending much of our waking hours in them, giving great thought to decorating them and using them to showcase our tastes, values, and fascinations even when there’s no real chance or intention of showing it to strangers. Like many Americans, I spent an inordinate amount of my adolescence in my room during the long and treacherous path to becoming an adult person, practicing guitar, listening to sad indie rock, and reading cheesy fantasy novels about small-town boys with swords who slay dragons and lay sexy witches. Within the house where I lived, my room was my real home. Here I could be alone, and thus myself, rather than a dorky, hormone-crazed nerd who’d upend his entire personality to impress a girl. Even after high school, when I often had a place of my own, I still spent free time in my room.
Now I’m in the Peace Corps with a host family, which is much like regressing to adolescence: I go to school every day, I’m on a curfew, my body is going through constant and uncomfortable changes, I don’t know how to explain or express my emotions to anybody, and I spend a lot of time in my room reading old novels, playing guitar, and yearning for the day when I can leave this little village behind me and strike out for a big city and get a place of my own with a car and a career and a girlfriend. Twenty-six has turned out to be a lot like 16, so far. Continue reading “Housekeeping Lesson #1: Journey Around My Room”