One of the round table discussions that I went to during the EMP Pop Conference, last weekend, was about girls and their bedrooms pre-Interwebs, or as it was officially called, In the Girls' Room: Pre-Internet Teen Girl Bedroom Culture. So, we're talking the early 90s, and while I'm sure some enterprising early adopters had the means and funds to have some sort of Internet connection, the point of the panel was to discuss life before we were all so technologically linked.
While the entire conversation was fascinating--Riot Grrrl, Sassy Magazine (and I am honored to say that I did get this magazine when it was first published back in 1988. It was revelatory.), Alanis Morrisette (ugh) and boys in the bedroom or not--the one comment I made in the margin of my conference guide was "Is my apartment an extension of my teenage bedroom because I am single?" Why did I ask myself this question? Because the moderator asked at what point does a teen girl abandon her teen bedroom and move into an adult bedroom? One spectator noted that it happens when she moves into her college dorm and no longer needs to manifest the search for her identity all over her bedroom because at this point she is starting to "find" herself and come into her own. I don't know if I agree with this statement. Admittedly, I never lived in a dorm but I saw a lot of them and what I observed was a lot of bland conformity. Ubiquitous Monet Waterlilies or Klimt's, The Kiss. (There's a funny Buffy episode where a jaded college campus vamp makes fun of this trend.) Not to mention the same-o, same-o mini-fridge/microwave combo. I get the practicality of those appliances, but it did add to an air of sameness. You're sharing a room with someone so there has to be a negotiation, to some degree, of visual representation. Perhaps the only time you really get to splatter the walls with your developing expressive self is when you're a teenager. Provided you have your own room and you are able to do whatever you like, within reason, to the walls and shelf space.
I didn't get my own room until I was... hmmmm... how old was I? Definitely in high school. (Sometimes I wish I had a scanner because I could scan some photos I took of my teen girl bedroom... I was very proud of my wall collage. Very proud.) There is no doubt in my mind that my room was a definitive expression of what I wanted the world to know about me. Though I no longer have a wall collage of my favorite singers and bands carefully composed and constructed from Spin, Rolling Stone (back when I thought it was sort of cool, though I preferred Spin), NME and random music mags I may have stumbled upon, I sometimes wish I did. And I most assuredly have composed my studio apartment into a space that says "Hey! You can learn a lot about me just by looking at all the books, Cd's and records, and wickety-whack knick-knacks lovingly curated all around in nooks and crannies."
Really. You can. It's like an adult version of a teenager's bedroom. It's very different than the bedroom--or any other room, for that matter--that I shared with T. G.; that was less Linnet and more T. More what I believed expressed "mature adult couple"--mature adult couple that would be acceptable to T. (yawn)
So, I go back to disagreeing with the woman who thought that the dorm room didn't have to have all that "me"--but not "me" because, like I said, I never lived in the dorms--stuff because this was the point at which the girl is becoming a woman and no longer needed to prove her individuality. She just is.
I think that when you share a space you have the potential to fall into a trap of suppressing yourself in your own home and though this won't happen to everyone, it's possible. Of course it's not always true, Ready Made has a feature in every issue that entices the reader to salivate all over the envy-inducing creative power of expression as realized by couples and single folks in their amazing homes.