I always thought that once I arrived in Nome I’d spend a lot of time alone in my room. I thought that I’d want to spend all my free time reading and writing and thinking, maybe using my self-imposed isolation to learn to be more self-sufficient and zen and in-tune with the world around me.
I thought I wanted a room and I wanted a time warp. I wanted it to be filled with books I had yet to read and thoughts I had no time to write, and I thought there was no better time and place than Alaska for this room to exist, but it doesn’t. At least, not how I first envisioned it.
It turns out, what I really wanted was not gridlocked privacy, but a Community Room, or Multipurpose Whimsy Room, as we like to call it.
The Multipurpose Whimsy room, Eva and Josh’s brainchild, was born on a lazy Sunday afternoon after the realization that there were way too many awesome albums, crazy fabrics, plastic googly-eyes, Christmas decorations and viking helmets lying around the KNOM Volunteer House for them to go to waste. Since we had a room on the top floor vacant, we turned it into a hangout spot, kind of like a play room, kind of like an office, but with more color and spunk (and did I mention viking helmets?) Suddenly, activities that previously took place in the living room and dining room gravitated upstairs.
So far, We’ve had tea time there, played board games, sung Kumbaya, and I’m pretty sure this is where I’ll do my taxes or anything remotely stressful. We take turns and use the room for alone time. I treat it like a library and read there a lot. (Fun fact: our last Public Affairs volunteer, Matt, said this was the coldest room of them all, so no one picked it as their own. Now this is the warmest room in the house and we all wished we had chosen it).
I have no idea what this year will bring, but now I know that it is not isolation. I have friends and family scattered all over the lower 48, and I can’t begin say how many stories I hear about feelings of alienation from many of them, even though their cities are bigger and the people are louder.
We can be isolated regardless of where we are geographically or how many people we are surrounded by; the trick to feeling like you belong somewhere is to make the place your own… so pull out the tinsel and Lesley Gore album and dance around like it’s your home (because it is)!
I plan to use my spare time in Nome avoiding melancholic tendencies, making new friends and having fun in the Whimsy Room.
Don’t get me wrong. Having my own room and space is great, but having a community space to share is even better. It’s important to grow as individuals, but it is also important to grow together, with people we may not know, but will come to know, and work with them towards a purpose that is greater than our own. Viking helmets and all.