My Room

Growing up I spent a lot of time in my room. Not because my parents punished me or anything. I just liked the time alone to do stuff I enjoyed doing without interference from the outside world. In some ways, I still do that whenever I withdraw from everyone to write my zombie tales of madness and survival. Let me give you a quick peek into my formative years for Freedom Friday, this way you’ll know where I’m coming from whenever I insert a reference of some obscure book, movie or music into my insane writings.

Chess by Thomas Saur
Chess by Thomas Saur

I value my time alone. How’s that for an attention-getting statement? Life moves fast. If I don’t slow down, I’ll end up wishing I had spent more time smelling the roses. I know it’s a cliché, but it works in this case—the smelling of the roses bit, that is.

As a boy, growing up in an active Italian family, I didn’t have time to think about the future. I was having too much fun enjoying the present running around with all my cousins. Not a weekend went by that we weren’t doing something with my relatives, whether it was cooking a BBQ, eating a gigantic meal or stuffing ourselves with oversized sandwiches.

Given my parents had four siblings apiece, it’s debatable since I don’t have my mom’s full history, our get-togethers were massive feasts of food and fun. My dad had recorded some of those events on one of those Super 8 cameras he had purchased. Back then, video did not come from a phone you concealed in your pocket, but from a clunky, old brick you held in your hand. Every so often I’d watch them wondering whatever happened to everybody.

When I reached the age of self-awareness, a teenager (a.k.a. the age of reason), I’d spent a good chunk of my time in my room. I don’t know why. I mean, I had friends and all, and my parents had friends, but I felt as though I needed time to understand who I was.

I learned I enjoyed playing chess. I remember having bought a portable electronic chess game that would play me on different levels, including grandmaster. I can’t say how many hours I’d dedicated to the game, by now most of that is lost in my memory. Yet, because of the time I’d poured into it, my team in grade school went on to win second place in the Ontario Regional Chess Tournament for that year.

About a year later, my interests had changed and my mind had focused more on music than anything else. I learned how to play the guitar. I guess I was pretty good ‘cause I played gigs with a few bands and had my own band by the end of high school.

How can I ever forget those summer nights when I knew my neighbors had gone to some party, and I’d be in my room, cranking out the tunes on my Gibson imitation. My poor parents. They put up so much with me, it’s a wonder they hadn’t disowned me by the time I had completed puberty.

William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare

In all this, I discovered Shakespeare. My first exposure to the behemoth playwright was in the ninth grade English class where we began studying The Merchant of Venice. At the time, I couldn’t get my head around a man possessed with the thought of collecting a pound of flesh for a debt owed. It became an obsession with me to want to find out what it all meant.

A pound of flesh? From where? The arm? The thigh? The buttocks? And when Shylock gets his pound of flesh, what will he do with it? Will he use it to heat his home? Will it be a mantelpiece for use in conversations? Or…will he reduce himself to zombie status and eat it?

From there I went on to devour Macbeth, Hamlet, Othello, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the intense, once-a-year-read Romeo and Juliet.

Romeo and Juliet. Oh, how I fell in love with the notion of lovers wanting to sacrifice their lives for each other. It haunted my nights. It made my days nightmares. I had obsessed over the book. I read, reread, and reread the text, going to the library searching for commentaries to hear what the experts had to say. I wondered how a story so simple could make me feel so insignificant. I contemplated on those last moments when Juliet held the dagger in her hand, waiting to thrust it deep within her bowels so she could be with her lover once again, Romeo.

“O happy dagger. This is thy sheath.”

During my formative years, my room became my sanctuary.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

Do you have memories of wanting to spend time in your room? What did you do? Did you learn anything?

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17 thoughts on “My Room

  1. I too, spent a lot of time in my room as a teenager with the door closed. My parents hated that. They would rather had me downstairs with them being part of the family. In the winter, because our hundred year old, two story farm house was heated only by a wood stove in the back room, my room was always cold in the winter and I would huddle in bed. I was always listening to music, reading, or working on whatever piece I happen to be writing at the time or homework. If I wasn’t in my room, I was outside playing, in the woods, out the backyard, or horseback riding. And if I wasn’t home, I was either at school, drama club, sports, or cheerleading. I would always prefer to be in my room, alone, as I have always been a loner, and an introvert. I think it is because I have never fit in anywhere and always had a hard time making friends. I write better when I am alone and it is quiet, with some music playing quietly in the background.

    • The woods are a great place to hang out when growing up. I remember having a river to play around in, catching lizards, skipping rocks, you know, the whole bit. Great having the woods during the fall. Love how I can appreciate it now that I’m a bit older and wiser! 🙂

  2. Answers: #1 Yes. #2 Taped the room in half so I could have my own space to read, day dream…. My sister took the other half. #3 I learned that I should have taken the half with the door. Had to crawl out the windows for meals. 🙂

  3. I agree with you sir about wanting to spend time in your room. I don’t see this as strange or peculiar – I think everyone (excuse my generalisation) at one point or another wishes to be left alone to their own thoughts to sort out life and let their imaginations run a muck with total freedom and no interruption.
    Great post, and very interesting views and thoughts! 😀

  4. Seems we have a bit in common. I spent much of my time alone in my room, drawing, reading, and writing horrible poetry! I even studied chess as welll – obsessivley. Our school did not have a chess team, so my skills fizzled. I spent so much time in my room that instead of sending me to my room as punishment, my parents would make me sit with them. It was dreadful as a teenager!

    There are some stark differences however – the difference being that I am an only child. I learned to occupy my time creatively, not sharing much with others because I believed they wouldn’t understand my way of thinking. I still hold that idea in some ways.

    I still desperately need my alone time, and as I get older I find I cherish the sound of nothing! Sweet silence, what a refuge. In fact – I get plain cranky when it’s been too long since I had my quiet time. I often wondered if I had brothers and sisters if this need would be different , but it doesn’t seem so in your case.

    Thank you for sharing a bit of your life.

  5. As I recall, at nearly the same point in time Shylock hears the news of Antonio’s inability to pay his debt to him, he also learns that his daughter Jessica has run off to marry a Christian. Shylocks response to Antonio is… “I’ll plague him… I’ll torture him” (3.1.13). Is Shylock really looking to compensate for the loss of his own flesh and blood (Jessica) by demanding a little bit of Antonio’s flesh and blood? Is Shylock really concerned with his financial bond?

  6. I shared a room with my little sister, so my sanctuary was a tree out behind the machine shed, the one tree I could climb.

  7. I was always in my room throughout grade school and middle school, reading, listening to music, singing my little heart out. In high school I became very extroverted and spend very little time alone.

    Now that I’m older and my sanity has returned, I definitely need my time alone as well. It’s a chance to breathe, think, and generally center myself.

    Your chess skills are enviable! I’ll admit I haven’t the least idea where to begin when it comes to chess strategy.

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