Hamsters

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I shared a room until I was 18.

It’s a great recipe for insanity—one I plan to gift my own hypothetical offspring.

After all, with all this talk about future generations growing far more entitled, information being far more accessible, and the interwebs rendering state boundaries obsolete (and thus, expanding the pool of people you might meet in real life), there remains the one thing I still can control: physical space.

And in this space, its inhabitants will learn as I did, early and quite often, that what’s mine is not necessarily just mine,

what’s normal for me is probably weird to others,

and, most important,

that I have to share my fucking space whether I like it or not.

Just how these things can be achieved will be quite murky, as the great Space Enforcers (aka Mom and Dad) will be way too busy with their own shit (aka paying the billz) to hold anyone’s hand.

But achieve them everyone must if they want peace in Bedroomdonia.

Plus, for you skeptics, there are valuable life lessons to be had: ones about collaboration, compromise and, perhaps the one most conducive to succeeding in this modern world, subterfuge.

Because hell hath no fury like a sister scorned.

In the embattled landscape of my space-deprived youth, the lone desktop computer was a coveted thing. So was the blowdryer. The lone television.

Bathroom privileges hinged on the desirability of the anticipated activity. Most mornings it spawned the Bowl of Pasta special: fighting to the death to see how long we could stay burrowed in our beds until our dad ran into our room screaming because we were running late for school and, by extension, making him late for work.

Our most epic fights played out in ridiculous bloodbaths via a stab of the fingernail, bitch fits and, for the worst of the worst, The Silent Treatment. Couples on the verge of divorce are notorious for the last thing, but I suspect the ones who do it best shared a room with a sister.

It all taught me the art of tolerating interpersonal differences as a form of survival. Dealing with subsequent roommates became a breeze.

It did something else as well.

Even now in large spaces, I feel swallowed whole.

Just recently I had an entire house to myself while working in a different city. I felt like at any moment, someone could kill me and get away with it.

Perhaps that’s the paradox of it all.

I like my own space. But not too much.

I want to know I can read in a corner, undisturbed, and still have someone within earshot to listen to my favorite passages or, at the very least, rescue me from closet monsters.

Of these corners I’m very territorial.

For a while I’d even accepted I was meant to live my life like a hamster, hoarding all my shavings, marking them with my scent, dissuading intruders from trespassing, and biting a chunk off repeat offenders.

But once in a while, as I learned through years of owning 30 hamsters simultaneously (More on that some other time), a second hamster can be introduced to an occupied habitat and peacefully coexist.

And, if the first hamster permits, colonize somewhere new together.

IMG_0404IMG_0407IMG_0428_whiteoutIMG_0434IMG_0443IMG_0445IMG_0483IMG_0484IMG_0494Note: Pictures taken shortly after moving in. Don’t worry, we’ve cleared the crap since. For the most part.

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