Last week was school winter break. This week, to prevent a stay in the rubber room, I took a stay-cation. I’ve been catching up on housework and writing and I’ve had a few rendezvous this week with an old friend.
Nothing says mental health day like a low-key lunch date with a book while someone else does the cooking and dish washing, so Monday morning I packed up my bag and grabbed a book from the piles that had grown during my attempt to carve a path from the door of the Mom Cave to my desk.
Sitting at a table of my own, I began re-absorbing Virginia Woolf’s treatise, A Room of One’s Own. It was the first hour that had been completely mine in weeks, and, even thought I knew I should be writing, meeting Virginia for lunch was the best decision I would make this holiday.
Before my salad arrived, Virginia had told me once again about being chased off the lawn at Oxbridge, one of England’s finest universities, because people with ovaries were not allowed to walk on the grass, let alone enter the library without a male chaperone or letter of introduction (all those books were so dangerous apparently). She had asked why so few women had excelled in the arts, specifically literature, and she had begun to remind me that, for a woman to write – for the nanny or the coal miner to create – one needed the princely sum of 500 £ a year (the amount of an annuity left to her by an aunt which, even adjusted for inflation would require herculean budgeting skills to survive on) and a room of one’s own. The soup arrived as she was detailing how to lift up women (and men) to do their best work and not only the work that lured the stock broker and the barrister indoors on a glorious day to make more money just for the sake of more money.
Virginia and I had lunch again on Tuesday, and I began wondering how to create my own annuity – or at least the time that one could buy with it. The work of parenting will not change for me for quite a few years (I’ve barely had a bathroom break of my own in the last decade and a half). The work of earning a living, however, has been creeping into the rest of my life lately. Virginia reminded me that earning a living, while important and even valuable, is not the same as making a life. That task is just as valuable.
Wednesday I made a lunch date with my keyboard, but I was pretty sure Virginia was looking approvingly over my shoulder.