My room in San Francisco is kind of small. It’s a single bedroom in a 3- bedroom apartment, and definitely the smallest room of the three. There’s a walk-in closet with sliding doors. There are three windows facing North that are stuck closed. Each have some heavy brown curtains. One I keep closed and the others halfway open. I have my desk near it and I don’t want the sun damaging the wood. I get too much light in the morning and yet my plants don’t get nearly enough.
I’ve been living here for three months now. A coincidental Craigslist find, I shared a love of cats with my now roommates. I moved in the following week. I stressed about fitting all my stuff in here. It’s definitely not the best place I’ve lived in. But the necessities fit— my storage bed, dresser, matching desk and nightstand. Even all my shoes fit.
The beginning of living in a new place is always uncomfortable. Being awkward with your roommates, not sure if I’m being too antisocial if I stay in my room. Looking around my room, feeling like I shouldn’t be stuck here by myself, nestled within stacks of packed boxes and trash bags of clothes. At night I find activities to do to keep myself busy, so that I wouldn’t have to spend it in the room by myself. I think that I am alone, constantly trying to persude my roommate’s cat Jasper to come in and kick it with me. Sometimes I will eat in my room, at the desk, watching a TV show on my monitor and browsing Facebook with the other.
At night, I fall asleep to the car noise. My windows look out to the Panhandle park but also a large and busy street. I get used to waking up when the traffic starts up in the morning. I get used to the constant wind outside and seeing the trees swaying at night. I look out and down when I’m expecting someone or a delivery. I can see them walking up our steps or sitting there as they call me to be let in. After work I come home to my room bathed in golden hour. Jasper will trot in, inspect the jacket I strew on my bed, and sometimes make himself comfortable there for a nap. It’s been three months and I think it feels like home now.
You start out with some nights alone, some nights where you’re extremely bored and waiting for notifications on your phone, where you whittle time away so you can go to bed, then wake up just to check your phone and repeat the whole process again. But bit by bit, day by day, sometimes good things happen so that you can look around the room and visualize the details, remembering it.
I have a friend visit, she sits on my bed takes selfies with Jasper. She tries on my clothes and looks at herself in the mirror I’ve attached to my wall. I have another friend come by and I make him take his shoes off before coming in. My friends plan to go out and I have them meet at my place beforehand, we blast music to get pumped. Another friend comes over to bakes chicken with me, and we watch Queer Eye in the living room. Sometimes I’ll have dates over, us slipping in when my roommates have gone to sleep, and we sit on my bed and talk, with only my nightstand light on. We talk to my Alexa and make her play music for us, going over various songs and artists.
I guess we associate people with places, that a place doesn’t mean anything without the people that have been in it. My room, once so lonely and bare and cluttered, when put in the context of people I care about, is now warm and safe and comfortable. My room, where in the beginning I used to just sleep in and wake in and get ready in, is now my own after I spend more time there, and more time with people there. I am there after a tiring day at work, I am reading on the weekends, I am having my morning coffee and checking my email. I am lighting a candle at night and doing my skincare routine before bedtime.
I am looking around and waiting for Jasper to come in, rub himself on my leg and fall asleep on the bed. I am playing music that I remember and I am looking at my clothes hung up and organized, remembering memories associated with every outfit I wore. I now feel relief when I come back to my room after a date, after dinner with friends, after the gym. This is definitely not the best room I’ve lived in. But I’m still happy to be here.