A room needs to be lived in to survive. Etymologies aside, most especially is this the case with the living room. It is the modern hearth of the house where we keep our living shrines: the television, the fireplace, the family photos, the company of loved ones.
The living room in my house is dark and quiet now. It sits just to the right of the front door but lies distant and crippled, resigned because of us. We don’t use this room anymore. In fact, it was the same person who once inspired life in this room also came, however unintentionally, to stamp our its smoldering potential as a hub of our disjointed house.
She first moved in as a subletter of an upstairs bedroom. Well actually all of the bedrooms are upstairs. But with her, among the many other things (things!) she brought that found a home of their own in the garage, came a cushy love seat, the kind that almost east you up entirely. It’s so over stuffed that in my mind I am a kitten and it is a bear. She also brought a few hours of unanimous motivation that swept through our bodies and rooms to actually take pride in the shape of this house. In other words, we cleaned. We arranged and rearranged. Ship-shaping.
And so our living room came together and swelled with people and joy. This room alive, so too it seemed was the entire house and its residents.
Returning from Winter Break, I found what looked like a blanket fort for adults that had colonized the back corners of the living room. In an architectural amputation of sorts, the living room was split in two. The housemate-on-hiatus had returned and Ms. Subletter began occupation in the blanket lair with nails freshly hammered into the plaster.
Half of the living room remains but it has not been the same. Half of a room. Not the same. To do what it does, a room relies so dependently on its space and the peoples’ relationship to it.
What was once just blooming became so cold and so barren almost overnight. Neglect found a home. Us residents found seclusion in the sterility of our own rooms where there is now flow from you to me.
A room lies silent in our house, maybe only to find a wandering soul now and again. But for what? Our living room is dead.