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Owning, and being owned.

I miss my room. The one I had as a child, in my childhood home. It wasn’t very big–just 10’ x 12’–but it was mine. At least I thought it was mine. Everyone in the house seemed to agree that it was mine. I now know that it wasn’t technically mine, that it really belonged to my parents’ bank, and then to my parents once they paid off their $23,ooo morgtage. But the entire time I lived in that house, I thought that little room belonged to me. I decorated it with record album covers and pictures of 1980s teen heartthrobs. My mom purchased, at a garage sale, thick bordello-pink faux velvet curtains trimmed with dangly pinkish poofy balls for me to hang in my window. And my dad installed a locking doorknob to keep my brother out. Everything I owned was in that one little room.

Yeah, I miss my room. But, it’s not the actual space that I miss, or the stuff contained therein. No, what I really miss about my childhood bedroom is the simplicity in life that came from owning very little, and the glorious freedom I felt as a result of being owned by nothing. Because possessions can own you. And they can be a harsh mistress, requiring too much time and energy to maintain, often with diminishing returns. When I lived in that little room, I was nearly free of possessions. My parents owned most everything I had. They bought it, and they had it fixed or replaced–or not–when it broke or was outgrown or got lost. And life was simple that way. I didn’t know it at the time, but I enjoyed owning–and being owned by–just a very few things. And now I miss it.

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