This story was written by Malati Marlene Shinazy
In 1929, the writer Virginia Woolf published an extended essay entitled, “A Room of One’s Own.” Without digging too far into the actual content, philosophy or critique of this collection of lectures, the idea of having “A Room of One’s Own” in which to pursue one’s interests has taken some shape for many generations of women in our family. Many of the women in my grandmothers’ generation had a room of one’s own…
Each one of these women “owned” the kitchen. Make no doubt about it. When they were cooking, we stayed away… serious creative business, cooking. Only my grandfather and uncle, professional chefs in their own right, were allowed to peek into these castles of dominion. The commoners: kids, young moms and dads, had to stay away – far away. When the meal was prepared and ready for presentation, we were summoned.
One of my grandmothers was a potter, then a glazer, then a jewelry artist. On her land was not just a room of one’s own. She had an entire building dedicated to her artistic pursuits. It was called her pottery house: A little two room cottage, with plenty of windows, Dutch-doors on both ends, wheels, kilns, shelves of all sorts of potions – or so it seemed to me. I think they were actually chemicals she mixed to develop different glazes for her work. In her of jewelry making era, much of the equipment was re-purposed for creating molds for melting gold. This was more than a “room of one’s own.” This was an alchemist’s studio.
One of my female relatives had no need for a room of one’s own. What she did need, however, was closet space. Lots and lots of closet space for her lots and lots of dresses — First, she filled the walk-in closet that covered the length of her master bedroom. Then, as each of her children left the nest, she swept in hawk-like and claimed their closet as her own. Comically, when she retired and had an entire home of her own, she still needed more closet space than the house could bear. I once measured 16-1/2 feet of additional over-the-door hangers for her clothes… Creativity seems to take many forms.
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to continue reading “A Room of My Own?” Part Two
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