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Emotional Space—Rochelle Goes To Her Room

Emotional Space — Rochelle Goes To Her Room

As an eighth grader, our social studies teacher introduced us to The New York Times and taught us how to fold the 24” x 30” broadsheet newspaper so it could be easily read on a crowded subway. Space has always been a consideration in New York City, as well as a love of the daily newspaper. From the time I was in the second grade, my father would put seven cents in my palm, fold my fingers around the coins and send me across the street to purchase The Forward, the Yiddish daily newspaper. It was his moment to take in new perspectives and reflect on them at his own pace. By ninth grade, I’d rush to the local newsstand on Saturday night to get an early copy of The Sunday Times because it had extensive real estate listings with floor plans. 

This was my escapist reading. I’d use the plans to fantasize about where I’d put my imaginary furniture in my imaginary room. At the time, our family lived in a small apartment on East Fifth Street and Avenue L in Brooklyn. I slept in the living room on the miraculous, space saving, Castro convertible sofa. Every evening and morning, I enacted being Bernadette Castro, starring in a commercial for the Castro Convertible, demonstrating how easy it was to use the disappearing bed. This was happening while I was longing for a room of my own, where I could close the door. 

Since real estate listings went digital, I escape into HGTV, but struggle to emotionally connect to the popular open plan” concept of houses and apartments. I appreciate others need for flow, keeping an eye on children and having more seating available for entertaining. I understand and appreciate how the open plan helps a small space feel larger and the television designers do a great job making it all look cohesive. I almost get the connection of an open space dining room combined with the kitchen, but I can’t get the kitchen and dining room connecting to the living room (my former bedroom.)

For me, I like rooms, in all sizes. I enjoy company, when I am not looking at a messy kitchen that’s calling me to clean it up. Spaces that allow for pauses before you enter the next area, hallways do a nice job of getting you from here to there, sometimes, with space to hang art. I like to take in a room and not be overwhelmed or confused about where I should sit or what I should be doing in it. The space becomes the content by informing us, shaping us. Like many kids, I made a room between two chairs that was covered with a blanket and had a flap for a door or had a fort made out of pillows. Those boundaries signaled to me that it was safe inside. 

When I finally got my own 500-square-foot Kips Bay studio apartment, I put up a wall between the bed and the living space. I experimented with a wall color and ended up painting it eleven times in one year. Maybe an open plan would have been better.

Castro convertible

Go to your room.