Nine writers recount their search — and what they found
Texas, I’m told, you can own a sprawling several-acre ranch for a mere couple of bucks.
I can’t get this information out of my head. For a person who craves space, the prospect is all-too appealing.
Imagine arriving home after a leisure walk with the baby — probably on your very own ranch, you don’t even need to leave your daled plus-plus-plus-cubed amos to take that stroll — and simply parking the stroller in the roomy shed on the side of the house. The stroller wouldn’t even have to bypass any bikes or lawn mowers, there’d be arm’s length space between every clunky item.
Also, once I’m imagining things, I’d definitely have time to take that leisure walk with the baby. Because in my brain, the luxury of space is the elixir to everything.
Still, when I put the weight of the entire Texan ranch on one side of the scale, and my family, shul, schools and community on the other, the latter weighs down. In Brooklyn we stay.
Stuck in these familiar yet restraining confines, I constantly search for space. I find some when we move from a standard tiny Brooklyn apartment to a standard small Brooklyn house. I revel in the expanded closet space and elbow room.
It doesn’t take long to learn that the space I crave isn’t entirely physical. Yes, the fact that toys are played with in a playroom rather than in the kitchen, dining room, or bedroom allow me to breath more comfortably. And I don’t take it for granted that my children don’t all have to share one small bedroom, and that that bedroom doesn’t couple as a playroom, like it did in our previous apartment.
The real space I crave can’t be measured in square footage. It’s headroom I’m after. Calm, peace, quiet. A mental environment to engage in my own thoughts, plans, and ideas. Alone time.
The commodity of such space is a lot rarer than physical proportions. Even in Texas, I suspect, where my children would be frolicking in the great outdoors (what else do kids do on Texan ranches if not frolic?), the smell of my coffee would still attract them, and I don’t think there would be even a tiny niche on that great big ranch where I could hide and sip in peace.
Strangely, even during times when the children aren’t around (there’s no frolicking in Brooklyn, kids actually go to school and babies occasionally nap), the space is still never quite my own. Between a mother’s hundreds of responsibilities and thousands of big and little stresses, it’s nearly impossible to free my mind.
In short, the space I’m after is elusive.
What do you do if you’re searching for something and can’t find it?
You search elsewhere.
Realizing that I’ll never find space in seclusion, I try searching for space within the tumult. There is space, but it’s shared space. Shared with the people I love, the people whose presence is so overwhelming, it fills every inch of my heart, and I’d never want it any other way.
When it comes to shared space, there are no limitations. The supply is everywhere. A little for you, a little for me, a lot for all of us together.
So I try. I try to welcome distractions into my mental quarters, I try to catnap amid the chaos.
I try to sneak chocolate when nobody’s looking.
I try to hold out.
Because maybe one day this space will fill me with the peace and calm I crave.
For now, it’s as distant as a sprawling ranch in Texas.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 789)
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